Marco Rubio made a sizeable impact with his 100 Ideas campaign, but voters may be more interested in 'what have you done for me lately.'
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), chief architect of the Contract With America, says politicians can’t stop after they’ve accomplished one set of goals. “The public really wants to see a continuous renewal of new solutions, new approaches,” he says.
He calls Rubio’s effort a “model initiative” because it moved politics up from just money and interest groups to ideas and solutions and because anybody in Florida could participate. Gingrich is pushing other states to jump on the “100 Ideas” bandwagon: “I think it’s something that every state Legislature ought to be doing.”
In fact, several other states already adopted their own “100 Ideas” initiative: Former Oklahoma House Speaker Lance Cargill (R) launched a “100 Ideas” campaign in 2007, as did Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R). Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio and Georgia have developed similar programs.
Whatever its effect on the Legislature, Rubio’s citizen-centered approach hasn’t provided much of a boost to his political career. The 36-year-old Republican “just hasn’t gotten much juice out of it because of the terrible economy and the bad budget and fighting between the House and Senate over priorities,” says Jewett.
Nearing the end of his two-year tenure as House Speaker, Rubio is still mulling his next move. Because of term limits, he can’t run for re-election. He recently decided against running for Miami-Dade mayor but told Florida Trend he plans to “seriously look at” the possibility of returning to the House in 2010 or running for the state Senate. Higher political positions — such as governor or U.S. senator — appear more remote. As GOP strategist Adam Goodman notes, it’s a “very difficult thing to translate moving from the top seat in the Legislature to anything of increased value.”
Rubio says he plans to travel the country, talking to other states about his 100 Ideas initiative. He also plans to continue the exercise in Florida through a foundation called 100ideas.org. This summer, he is planning a statewide idea raiser on developmental disabilities and autism issues. He says a new bill that requires insurance companies to cover kids with autism doesn’t do enough to address other developmental disabilities such as Down syndrome and spina bifida. “I think this is an ongoing process. I think there’s 100 more ideas out there to be generated.”