A billionaire who quit the Republican Party out of disdain for President Donald Trump is spending millions of dollars in a bid to establish a “jungle primary“ system in Florida, a move that could upend the state’s political landscape.
And as the political battleground preps for the upcoming presidential campaign, party leaders aren’t happy.
Mike Fernandez, a Miami health care executive whose family fled Cuba when he was 12, is close to putting a question on the 2020 state ballot that, if approved, would allow any voter, regardless of party affiliation, to cast a ballot in state primaries.
If he succeeds, Florida would follow California into a jungle primary system, where the top two vote-getters — be they Republican, Democrat, or something else — would advance to the November general election.
Fernandez’s push is one effort among many to rebuild the country’s political center as fissures widen on issues such as the economy and immigration. Business leaders are seeking ways to take the edge off partisanship in Washington, and industry groups that have traditionally aligned with Republicans are on the lookout for moderate Democrats and Republicans to support.
Fernandez said his motive is simple: The country that brought him prosperity has taken a dark turn as both parties embrace extremism and ignore the wishes of independents and third-party voters who make up nearly 28 percent of the electorate.