Mike Huckabee, perhaps better than any other presidential contender, demonstrates the difficulties Florida presents for White House candidates.
When the former Arkansas governor returns to Sarasota on Saturday, he will be revisiting the site where his presidential aspirations were dashed in 2008 because of Florida’s complexities.
While the candidates spend months in the early, smaller primary states engaging in the retail politics of pancake breakfasts and county fairs, Florida presents distinct problems requiring a vast, developed campaign network and huge sums to advertise on the air.
“It’s a state where you just can’t succeed doing that same retail politicking,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist who worked on the 2008 John McCain presidential campaign.
In other words, the folksy charm and sense of humor Huckabee flashed in Iowa and New Hampshire never had an avenue in Florida.
Veteran Florida political consultant Jamie Miller said that at minimum, a primary challenger needs 15 to 20 professional staffers and more than $5 million to compete in this state’s critical election, expected to be in early March in 2016.