The Jeb Bush-Marco Rubio mano-a-mano duel for the Republican nomination has certainly split Florida Republicans, though a majority of the establishment GOP has tended to side with Team Jeb.
Then there are those who choose to remain neutral, such as John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council, one of the leading social conservative organizations in the Sunshine State.
But a report in the National Journal indicates that maybe Stemberger isn’t so neutral after all.
The NJ‘s Tim Alberta reports that Rubio was one of six Republican presidential hopefuls who spoke for a half-hour each in May to the Council for National Policy at a Ritz-Carlton in Tyson’s Corner, Va. The group is identified as a “secretive nonprofit populated by hundreds of right-wing activists and donors.”
Alberta reports that Stemberger introduced Rubio at the proceedings, which “raised eyebrows because of Stemberger’s previous alliance with Jeb Bush.” While he insisted after the event he had not endorsed anyone, “several CNP attendees said they have witnessed Stemberger lobbying on behalf of Rubio in smaller invitation-only meetings at the event.”
Last month Rubio won a straw poll of Florida Family Action members at a meeting in Orlando of the 2016 GOP candidates, capturing 33 percent of the vote. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz came in second with 30 percent, and Bush and Scott Walker tied for third with 8.9 percent.