Be slow to fall into friendship; but when thou art in, continue firm and constant.  –Socrates

As enduring as the ancient Greek philosopher’s words are, they have never really applied to political “friends.” Because once a person stops being useful to a politician, or vice versa, it’s over. Case in point: Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio

The “friendship” of the former allies is now being run through the meat grinder of a presidential campaign, and the two are on a collision course in their shared home state of Florida.

And right now, the Big Mo — as George H.W. Bush once put it to describe his own political momentum — is with Marco.

Most political analysts believe the loser of the March 15 Florida primary faces long odds to win the Republican presidential nomination. Rubio, who was long the junior partner in the relationship, has pulled about even with his former mentor, despite Bush’s vast money advantage.

“I think Florida’s very important to both, no doubt about it,” said Rick Mullaney, director of the Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute. “And our poll suggests both are well-positioned to win.”

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That poll, conducted Sept. 17-22, had real estate mogul Donald Trump in first place with 24.4 percent, following by four candidates bunched closely together: Bush at 16.9 percent; former business executive Carly Fiorina, 15.6 percent; retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, 15 percent; and Rubio, 14.9 percent.

A Sept. 16-20 Florida Chamber of Commerce poll has Trump at 25 percent, Rubio at 14 percent, and Bush at 13 percent.

Both polls show a statistical tie between Bush and Rubio, which bodes a potential nightmare for Jeb.

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Both polls show a statistical tie between Bush and Rubio, which bodes a potential nightmare for Jeb.

“I guess it would be technically possible to lose Florida and still win the nomination, but I think it would be difficult,” said Robert Crew, a political science professor at Florida State University.

Mullaney said the stakes probably are higher for Bush than Rubio.

Underwhelming poll numbers are beginning to cause Bush donors to hit the panic button. Politico reported Tuesday that the campaign has spent time trying to shore up the one area where the campaign retains undisputed front-runner status — money. Supporters have spent time in recent days trying to reassure nervous contributors.

Related: Florida Frost for Jeb, Hillary

It hasn’t helped that recent polls have detected a Rubio surge, while Bush remains stuck at or near the 7 percent range he has been registering in national polls for weeks.

So far, though, both Bush and Rubio have spent more time attacking Trump — or rather, responding to Trump broadsides — than engaging each other. When Rubio takes digs at his onetime political mentor, they normally are subtle and spoken without naming his rival.

“We cannot simply promote the next person in line or the most familiar name,” Rubio said on Monday during a campaign appearance in The Villages, a large retirement community in central Florida, according to an account by the Tampa Bay Times.

Often, when he makes the generational argument, Rubio directs it explicitly at 60-something-year-old Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. But Mullaney said the same line doubles as an implicit contrast with 60-something Bush.

“When he directs it at Hillary, he sort of gets a twofer,” he said.

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Rick Wilson, a Florida-based political consultant who is not aligned with any of the 2016 presidential campaigns, said he expects Trump to fade and either Bush or Rubio to ultimately win the state.

“I think either one has to build Florida into their calculations as a must-win state,” he said. “You need to send that signal pretty clear.”

As sons of Florida, Wilson said, Rubio and Bush possess advantages over the rest of the field. Both have experience winning statewide elections, and both know what it takes to win a large, diverse and politically complicated state.

“It is going to become a battle royale,” he said. “At the end, Jeb and Marco will emerge as the two brawlers in Florida … It’s going to come down to talent. It’s going to come down to organization.”

Wilson and other political observers said Bush and Rubio, to some extent, are competing for the same types of voters. Each man has advantages over the other.

“Money is critical, and Jeb has a lot of it. In addition, Jeb has an organization.”

For Rubio, it is the fact that he likely has a better grasp of the current electorate and residual goodwill for his defeat of GOP turncoat Charlie Crist, who bolted the party when it became clear he would lose the Republican primary for the Senate in 2010.

“He’s a child of the 2010 revolution and understands that language,” Wilson said, referring to Rubio. “It’s hard to put a price tag on how valuable it is to be the guy who beat Charlie Crist. He is still the devil in this state among Republicans.”

Mullaney added Rubio’s speaking ability to that list of advantages, calling the senator perhaps the most gifted orator in the field.

Bush’s advantages are a fundraising operation that dwarfs his competitors and a large, modern campaign organization. The financial resources ensure that he will not lack airtime in the state’s expensive media markets leading up to the March 15 primary.

“It’s not overrated,” said Crew, the Florida State professor. “Money is critical, and Jeb has a lot of it. In addition, Jeb has an organization.”

Take away the names and leave the title, Crew said, and a former governor with no Washington experience should be better positioned to take advantage of the current anti-establishment mood than a sitting U.S. senator. But of course, Bush has to live with the family name.

“That ties it into his brother and his father, and he’s part of the same, old crowd,” he said.