But now that Dean Cannon's term is up as speaker of the Florida House, eight of the nine people on the leadership teams in the House or the Senate — Republican or Democrat — are non-Blue Key.
The lone exception is House Majority Leader Steve Precourt, a UF grad inducted into Blue Key just four years ago, according to a UF Government Relations spotlight on the legislator.
"Student government at the time was largely dominated by fraternities and sororities, and I wasn't in a fraternity," Rubio told me last week.
Because those who have been through the UF political machine have said the real world pales in comparison.
"I never encountered, in state and federal politics, activities as aggressive as at the University of Florida," Bob Graham, a former Florida governor and U.S. senator, told the Independent Florida Alligator last year.
But Rubio is so famous now that Florida Blue Key wanted to claim him. So a few years ago it offered him an honorary membership, which he accepted. (Martinez, Bush and Crist are now also honorary members.)
"They didn't pick me while I was there," he said.
That's at least one thing Rubio has in common with U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the national Democratic Party.
Wasserman Schultz successfully ran a campaign against the Blue Key party to become president of the Student Senate in the mid-1980s. She politely declined an offer to be honorarily inducted.
"Florida Blue Key had the reputation and tradition of electing Florida's future leaders," she said. "It hasn't had that type of reputation in years."
That could be the result of a hit to the organization's image after a lawsuit in the 1990s that alleged a history of dirty tricks by the organization. A jury awarded a six-figure verdict in favor of the former student candidate whom Blue Key opposed.
But even more of a factor is that as the state and the university have grown, members of the exclusive club have simply become outnumbered and seen their influence diluted.
In the past decade prominent figures with a Blue Key pedigree fell short: Bill McCollum and Bill McBride lost bids for governor, and Chris Dorworth, once slated to be House speaker, was defeated last year.
But like football, these things are cyclical. Let's not forget who came after Ron Zook.
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