Florida Gov. Rick Scott and GOP Presidential nominee Donald Trump have a number of things in common.
One of them: deciding to have Susie Wiles, the legendary Jacksonville political operative, in key campaign roles.
Wiles ran Scott’s 2010 campaign, and now she has taken command of Trump’s Florida campaign, which thus far has lacked key components, such as field offices outside of Sarasota.
“She’ll do a good job,” Scott said exclusively to FloridaPolitics.com.
“Susie did a good job on my campaign in 2010, and she’ll do a good job” as Trump’s Florida manager, Scott predicted.
When asked what changes he was expecting now that Wiles is running the operation, Scott said, “What Susie’s good at is organization. She’s good at getting a lot of people to volunteer. She’s going to do a great job.”
Wiles signed on with the Trump campaign in the fall of 2015 as Florida co-chair, when virtually every other player in Northeast Florida’s political scene lined up behind Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio.
A Trump rally in Jacksonville just days later saw very little in the way of support from elected officials or even party leaders.
Her skill, demonstrated throughout the contentious primary season, was largely damage mitigation.
After Trump’s seeming advocacy of a ban on Muslim immigration late last year, Wiles told FloridaPolitics.com Trump’s comments were “blown out of proportion” and aligned with the party’s rank and file. Her assertions seemed to be borne out by Trump’s resounding March 15 victory in Florida, a victory which included strong wins in Duval County, despite very public backing of Rubio by Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry.
Even when the Florida win was in the books, Wiles was helpful in offering a counter-narrative to the media froth.
Wiles, in response to an April POLITICO story that said the Trump campaign was in “disarray” after the candidate lost in Wisconsin and staff members were transferred or fired, told FloridaPolitics.com those rumors were exaggerated.
“The Trump campaign has been nontraditional, but very effective, since the first day. When a state’s primary has been held, staff in that state … go a state where the primary is yet to come. If they’re unable to move, sometimes they remain in their home state working as volunteers and, in some cases, the campaign and the staff part ways. This is not disarray; it is planned,” Wiles said.
“In Florida we have a strong coalition of volunteers and a few highly effective staff as of this date. As we get closer to the general election, the staffing in Florida will be evaluated and the campaign will adjust as needed.”
And her words proved accurate.
The staffing in Florida was evaluated.
And the Trump campaign adjusted.