The hidden danger of a Bush / Rubio ticket

I know… I know… there’s a lot more wrong with a Bush / Rubio ticket than anything I’m going to talk about here today, but it’s still a long way until the first votes are cast and we have some time for some trivia and sidebar speculation. A bit of research I was doing on another article led me down the rabbit hole to a question which popped up earlier this year. If, as at least some of the “experts” still seem to feel is possible, the Establishment Always Wins” rule is in effect and Jeb Bush somehow manages to come out on top, who does he pick for his running mate? One of the most popular “non-outsider” choices on the board right now remains Marco Rubio (assuming he doesn’t win it all himself) and there’s much to be said for him. The fact that Rubio has already declared that he’s not running for another term in the Senate means he’ll have plenty of time on his hands so he’s certainly available. But can Bush legally select him since they are both from the state of Florida?

Politifact took a look at this back in April and the answer is a qualified Yes. But it remains qualified because it’s complicated.

While we’re still waiting for Bush to make his candidacy official, O’Donnell’s claim that “the president and vice president can’t be from the same state,” got our heads spinning. If correct, that would rule out a Florida ticket of Bush/Rubio, or a Texas ticket of Rick Perry and Ted Cruz for that matter, or any combination that includes Bush, Rubio and two other Florida residents and possible contenders — Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee.

So is it true?

The answer is no. Neither the Constitution nor the Electoral College prevents Bush from picking a fellow Floridian or any candidate from choosing a running mate from the same state.

It just might make things tricky, depending on the situation.

The question is a fun one because some of you may recall the issue that arose when Jeb’s brother George and Dick Cheney first ran together. The question of the electoral college came up back then and Cheney changed his home address from Texas to Wyoming to avoid problems. Neither Jeb nor Rubio have much of a case to make for such an option so would they run into a problem? The Constitution is pretty clear on that part. They can definitely run together and they could win the general election. The only hitch comes with the electoral college. Article II reads as follows:

“The electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for two persons, of whom one at least shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves.”

So the electors from Florida could vote for Jeb Bush, but couldn’t cast their votes for Rubio as the veep. You need 270 votes to seal the deal for either office so if this scenario somehow did arise there would almost undoubtedly be a problem. The Democrats come into the race with such a huge, assumed firewall of states they always carry that they are virtually certain of getting in the range of 240 electoral votes even if they ran a canned ham. Obama ran away with the electoral college vote, but for a Republican to get past 300 would be almost a miracle. Since Florida has 29 electoral votes, that means that the GOP card would need to carry 299 to get the Vice President voted in without Florida’s electors.

What if they come in lower than that? Then presumably the EC would make Jeb the president but would fail to put the VP in place. That would kick the election over to the Senate where each Senator would get one vote and it would take 51 votes to carry the day. True, the GOP holds control of the Senate so it looks like a done deal, but we know how these things go in the modern age. If they failed to get to the threshold for either veep candidate I think we’re in totally uncharted territory.

Of course all of this is just mental floss for the most part. Would either Bush or Rubio actually consider taking the other with them on the ticket? There are probably going to be some bruised feelings between them by the time this is all said and done. Plus, they’ve already got the Florida Home Team thing locked up for the general election by themselves and would be far more likely to look at somebody like Kasich to try to pull in Ohio or Fiorina to shore up the women’s vote.

Anyway, just something to ponder over lunch today.

The original version of this article improperly stated that the Senate vote would require a 2/3 majority, which is actually for a quorum. It’s a simple majority.