NRSC endorses Crist for Senate

posted at 1:35 pm on May 12, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Florida Governor Charlie Crist announced his candidacy for Mel Martinez’s Senate seat today, which should have been the big political news of the day.  Instead, the NRSC overshadowed Crist by endorsing him as a primary candidate, even though state House Speaker Marco Rubio had already announced his bid for the job.  Conservatives may well wonder why the NRSC has interfered in a GOP primary:

Gov. Charlie Crist announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate this morning, becoming the first Florida governor in decades to decline a re-election bid for a shot at moving to Washington, D.C.

Crist, 52, told reporters in a Capitol news conference that the “challenges that Florida faces are not just Florida challenges. They’re national challenges.” “And as a result of that, I believe I can best serve the people of Florida, if they’re willing to allow me, as their next United States senator,” said Crist, a Republican.

The U.S. Senate seat is being vacated by retiring Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., creating a coveted opening. While Crist would only be eligible for one more term as governor because of term limits, U.S. senators often stay for life.

Tradition dictates that the national organizations remain neutral in primary races.  The NRSC relied on precisely that tradition in 2004 when they refused to get involved in Pat Toomey’s challenge to Arlen Specter, and in 2006′s Rhode Island primary that pitted Lincoln Chafee against conservative Steven Laffey.  In that race, the NRSC actually ran ads for Chafee during the primary, explaining that they support incumbents.

But the incumbent in this race is retiring, which makes this statement from John Cornyn all the more inexplicable:

“I am pleased today to endorse Gov. Charlie Crist for the United States Senate. With his record of reform in Florida, I know that Gov. Crist will bring a fresh perspective to Washington in our efforts to fight for lower taxes, less government and new job creation for all Americans. Charlie Crist is a tireless advocate on behalf of all Floridians and one of only three Governors who earned an ‘A’ from the CATO Institute for his efforts to restrain spending and cut taxes last year,” Cornyn said.

“While I believe Marco Rubio has a very bright future within the Republican Party, Charlie Crist is the best candidate in 2010 to ensure that we maintain the checks and balances that Floridians deserve in the United States Senate. Gov. Crist is a dedicated public servant and a dynamic leader, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee will provide our full support to ensure that he is elected the next United States Senator from Florida.”

It smacks of a deal cut to get Crist to skip a re-election campaign to go after the Senate seat.  While Crist’s popularity is an asset, Crist’s positions on issues are going to give conservatives and even moderates some angst in the party.  Crist openly supported the Porkulus plan, which would have put him with Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe, and Susan Collins as the only Republicans in Congress who did.  Cornyn himself fought against Porkulus.  So why is the NRSC endorsing Crist over Marco Rubio 15 months ahead of the primary?

Update: Nate Silver wonders whether Democrats ought to bother with a serious challenge if Crist wins the primary.  Read it all, but here are a couple of points for the GOP to ponder:

The Stimulus. Crist was in favor was in favor of Obama’s economic stimulus package, and in fact campaiged with the President for its passage.

Cap-and-Trade. Crist supports cap-and-trade and signed a bill to create a statewide cap-and-trade system in Florida. This isn’t necessarily that radical a stance for a Florida politician, a state which has relatively few jobs in carbon-intensive industries and conversely might suffer disproportionately from rising sea levels and stronger Atlantic hurricanes (Mel Martinez, Florida’s outgoing Senator, was one of seven Republicans to vote in favor of cloture on last year’s climate change bill). Crist also somewhat notoriously reversed his former opposition to offshore drilling during John McCain’s 2008 election campaign. Nevertheless, he is likely to be a reasonably reliable Democratic vote on environmental issues.

National Health Insurance. Unclear. Last May, Crist signed a bill to provide for low-cost, no-frills health insurance for the roughly 20 percent of Floridians who are uninsured. The bill does not contain an individual mandate, but does prohibit insurance companies from discriminating on the basis of age or pre-existing conditions. The smart money is that Crist would be a gettable vote on health care but would balk at a public option.


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Guess that listening tour is not working out too well!

huckleberryfriend on May 12, 2009 at 3:41 PM

Crist is nothing like Specter or Collins. He was actually being considered for McCain’s VP (and, lets face it, would have gotten it if there were no gay rumors).

Speedwagon82 on May 12, 2009 at 3:43 PM

That’s all well and good, but why do you have a picture of Pat Paulsen on your front page?

Snowed In on May 12, 2009 at 3:47 PM

With his record of reform in Florida,

he took thousands if not millions of democrat voters off the property tax rolls and caused state wide budget crisis that has resulted in local fees and millage rates being increased.

which would have put him with Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe, and Susan Collins

You couldn’t be more correct. His name will be spoken with snowe and collins for years if he gets elected. Anyone here actually still think that there are true conservatives in congress or even in any position of power in the republican party? It’s all a scam, it’s them against us and if anyone thinks there will be any stopping barry and the fascists you are deluding yourselves. The republican party is openly trying it’s best to defeat conservatives in pennsylvania and florida and who knows where else.

peacenprosperity on May 12, 2009 at 3:48 PM

Crist is nothing like Specter or Collins.

He is first and foremost a slimey, self serving politician and the little if any political ideology he has is liberal. I have never cast a vote for him and will always hold jeb bush responsible for his rise. The dirtbag goes to south florida and says one thing in the morning and goes to north Florida that afternoon and says something different. I have never voted for a democrat in my life but will cast my vote for satan if he is crist’s opponent.

peacenprosperity on May 12, 2009 at 3:52 PM

A purge would accomplish nothing, if Crist is the way to hold the line and focus on other races that is what the party should do.

It’s better to have a moderate Republican and allow focus elsewhere, then to lose more seats.

The Republicans are fading fast and by purging ranks of people who aren’t conservatives isn’t the way back to 50.

In the past it wasn’t only conservatism that won elections, from 1968 to 1988, Democrats never won New Jersey and only once Connecticut. By allowing a bigger tent, Republicans won often. Yes, Bush won without substantial support in the Northeast, but look at the Republican Party now, it’s decimated in those regions. The belief that the party should be more conservative, will cost more elections.

The best conservative for the location and given that Obama won Florida, might well be Crist. If we don’t have to worry about Florida, we can focus on other targets.

In 2010, we need to target Democrats everywhere we can…
Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Nevada, New York, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin

I promise you each seat is winnable, especially the ones that have been italicized, if Democrats could defeat Dole in 2008, we can do it anywhere. We just need the right Republican for the right area.

amazingmets on May 12, 2009 at 3:58 PM

With his record of reform in Florida, I know that Gov. Crist will bring a fresh perspective to Washington in our efforts to fight for lower taxes, less government and new job creation for all Americans. Charlie Crist is a tireless advocate on behalf of all Floridians and one of only three Governors who earned an ‘A’ from the CATO Institute for his efforts to restrain spending and cut taxes last year,”

What a bunch of horse squeeze! As a resident of FL, I can tell you the only on Crist is an advocate for is Crist! The only thing he has done well in FL is keep up his tan.

As far as his fight for lower taxes, Crist campaigned for a property tax cut that, in his words, “will drop like a rock”. Most people saw those taxes drop around $25 per year. Some rock!

Then, instead of staying in FL and working, Crist decided to suck at the toenails of John McCain in hopes of a VP slot.

Now, instead of standing against the Socializing of Amerika, he’ll spend the next 18 months campaigning for himself.

Sorry for the tirade, but Crist is the quintessential politician / used car salesman. I will change my regestration from independent to Republican just to vote against him in the primaries.

GrayDog on May 12, 2009 at 4:00 PM

It is incomprehenible that the republican leadership is so stupid. The only answer then is that the whole thing is a scam. If the republican party threw their money and support behind a conservative candidate here in Florida, that candidate would have a very good chance of winning, Same in pennsylvania. But no, the only republicans they want winning are squishy ones. They would rather have democrats in congress with them then conservatives.

peacenprosperity on May 12, 2009 at 4:00 PM

It’s better to have a moderate Republican and allow focus elsewhere, then to lose more seats.

That’s really been a winning formula for America, so far, hasn’t it.

peacenprosperity on May 12, 2009 at 4:01 PM

peacenprosperity on May 12, 2009 at 4:00 PM

I think money is also a factor, too. The NRO excerpt I posted shows they think Crist is self-financing. Arlen had millions in his campaign fund leftover from the last election.

If the NRSC is so short of money, maybe it should ask itself why. Instead of looking for anyone with their own dough who tries to fake out he’s a Republican.

Wethal on May 12, 2009 at 4:03 PM

If we don’t have to worry about Florida

I’ve got news for you spanky, crists popularity is with democrats, weak with republicans and nil with conservatives. democrat voters will vote for their candidate and conservatives will not vote for crist.

peacenprosperity on May 12, 2009 at 4:04 PM

I will help Mr. Rubio destroy Mr. Crist. I live in Tampa and will campaign for Rubio, I will do whatever it takes to bolster Rubio. I will wake up my family (fiancee is Boriqua with an ass load of family members who I have already taken out of their “default” dem position. I have opened their eyes) and friends all along the I4 corridor. I will help Mr. Rubio get elected with reckless abandon. I will get nasty, play dirty, whatever it takes. Screw Crist.

Charge the Line!!!!

vsunited on May 12, 2009 at 4:05 PM

If the NRSC is so short of money

If they are short on money it is because of their performance and the lousy candidates they foist on us.

peacenprosperity on May 12, 2009 at 4:06 PM

A purge would accomplish nothing, if Crist is the way to hold the line and focus on other races that is what the party should do.

It’s better to have a moderate Republican and allow focus elsewhere, then to lose more seats.

The Republicans are fading fast and by purging ranks of people who aren’t conservatives isn’t the way back to 50.

You’re assuming that the objective is a Republican Congress. It isn’t.

The objective is a conservative Congress. If it takes conservative Democrats or Libertarians, so be it.

obladioblada on May 12, 2009 at 4:09 PM

So who is standing up to challenge crist?

lwssdd on May 12, 2009 at 4:10 PM

Why isn’t Jeb Bush running? He would probably win and imagine all the money the DNC would waste in Florida trying to beat him. Seems like a no brainer for him to run. Hopefully he can take the Nelson seat.

Daemonocracy on May 12, 2009 at 4:14 PM

Like I said..Charge the line!

Rubio Video

vsunited on May 12, 2009 at 4:22 PM

It’s better to have a moderate Republican and allow focus elsewhere, then to lose more seats.

Same argument as last summer with McCain – ain’t buying anymore of that crazy, we’ve been overstocked on that for many a moon.

sannhet on May 12, 2009 at 4:27 PM

alright, I just read that article on Politico (had a surprising amount of meat to it for a Politico article) and it appears Rubio is a Jeb Bush protege of sorts. Many of Jebs more Conservative backers support Rubio and unlike other protest conservative candidates he seems like the real deal.

Rubio could win this seat, the party doesn’t need to be making any deals with Crist here.

Daemonocracy on May 12, 2009 at 4:28 PM

When was the last time Cornyn or the NRSC were on the *RIGHT* side of a damn thing?

Starting to think *HE* should go join the Dems!

Mew

acat on May 12, 2009 at 4:32 PM

Rubio could win this seat, the party doesn’t need to be making any deals with Crist here.

Daemonocracy on May 12, 2009 at 4:28 PM

Crist is supposedly a great fundraiser. Thus, the NRSC doesn’t need to financially support him as much. If Rubio would win, it would still cost the NRSC more.

Wethal on May 12, 2009 at 4:34 PM

Why isn’t Jeb Bush running? He would probably win and imagine all the money the DNC would waste in Florida trying to beat him. Seems like a no brainer for him to run. Hopefully he can take the Nelson seat.

Daemonocracy on May 12, 2009 at 4:14 PM

What would the point be? All the same people calling Crist a RINO would be calling Jeb one based on his brother.

Speedwagon82 on May 12, 2009 at 4:36 PM

In 2010, we need to target Democrats everywhere we can…
Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Nevada, New York, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin

I promise you each seat is winnable, especially the ones that have been italicized, if Democrats could defeat Dole in 2008, we can do it anywhere. We just need the right Republican for the right area.

amazingmets on May 12, 2009 at 3:58 PM
———-

Illinois should be within field goal distance for the Repubs as well. Dick(head) Durbin has made enough stupid statements on camera that the commercials to turn off the downstate farmers and coal miners should just about write themselves. He’ll already lose Chicago’s collar counties…

The problem is, the Illinois Republicans (the ones not doing time, that is) have been enjoying an internal power struggle between the cook county crook wing, the religious right wing, and the north shore ficons.. with the results being obvious to the whole country.

Blago – worst governor ever? Nah, just the latest in a series of fine Illinois product.

Burris – placeholder for Jesse Jackson Jr.? Time will tell.

Obama – beat Alan Keyes who replaced Jack Ryan. Jack dropped out because of some scandal in which he apparently tried to have sex with his wife. Since said wife went on to play 7 of 9… (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0005394/) …

Mew

acat on May 12, 2009 at 4:43 PM

The NRSC actually has a pop-up ad asking for donations to help fight Arlen Specter. This, after Cornyn supported Specter over Toomey! Now this Crist business…more proof that Cornyn and the NRSC are not our allies.

FuriousAmerican on May 12, 2009 at 4:44 PM

Crist is supposedly a great fundraiser. Thus, the NRSC doesn’t need to financially support him as much. If Rubio would win, it would still cost the NRSC more.

Wethal on May 12, 2009 at 4:34 PM

So we put a Democrat on the ballot to save some money? That’s just genius…..not.

FuriousAmerican on May 12, 2009 at 4:46 PM

Crist the RINOs RINO. Hapless Charlie “tan in a bottle” Crist is about as big a progressive as they come. The only thing that has prevented him from destroying Florida with his socialist crap is the legislature.

Remember he and Sheryl “one square” Crow paling around?

I will not vote if he is the only choice. Why bother. One progressive is just as bad as another.

Wanna bet the Miami Herald endorses him, like they did for Governor?

tarpon on May 12, 2009 at 5:03 PM

yeah, another “progressive” Republican. Re: social lib.

kirkill on May 12, 2009 at 5:03 PM

If Rubio can win the primary then fine, but the truth is Crist has an approval rating of about 71% among Republicans, those are the people voting in a Republican primary.

Terrye on May 12, 2009 at 5:33 PM

obladiablo:

You say that the point is not a conservative Republican party, it is a conservative Congress. Fine, but don’t you have to win some elections to do that? And isn’t that political?

Thus far the efforts at purging the party and the Congress have lead us to the most radically left Congress and White House in a generation. I think maybe you need to rethink your strategy.

Terrye on May 12, 2009 at 5:36 PM

Florida is not Utah or Alaska. We can’t afford the luxury of nominating a little known conservative.

Speedwagon82 on May 12, 2009 at 5:40 PM

Florida is not Utah or Alaska. We can’t afford the luxury of nominating a little known conservative.

Speedwagon82 on May 12, 2009 at 5:40 PM

With that logic, Lincoln Chafee was the perfect GOP nominee in Rhode Island. A guy who ended up voting for Obama.

Sorry, but this “we need to tailor the candidate to each state” logic is beyond me. I’d have a 50% shot of winning a senate seat with a true conservative like Rubio (which he has, see recent polling) than 100% shot of winning with another RINO like Crist.

Norwegian on May 12, 2009 at 6:15 PM

Is he or his beard running?

I kid I kid

harry on May 12, 2009 at 6:53 PM

I sent this email to info@gop.com earlier

Why is the Republican party (NRSC) getting involved in a primary election, particularly one with no incumbent? This is one of the reason I (and my friends) no longer support the party financially. It is bad enough to back an incumbent, but jumping in to support a “favorite” primary candidate is just stupid. It annoys the hell out of all of the Republican voters who favor any of the other candidates. This does not create unity in the party.

I am neither for nor against Mr. Crist, I’m just against using money in a primary instead of saving it for the general, where we can use it to defeat people who aren’t actually, you know, members of our own party.

Buford Gooch on May 12, 2009 at 7:04 PM

Terrye not going to fall for that one anymore. I vote for Conservatives and only Conservatives. If my guy isn’t a true blue, then I will adopt one in another state and give money to them. Same with all of them. I am done with the progressives, of both parties.

I am sick and tired of the Charlie “tan in a bottle” Crist’s party.

tarpon on May 12, 2009 at 7:07 PM

just another example that proves the republicans don’t get it…they want to go and follow Colin powell to defeat..

hell with em…let the ‘moderates’ vote for em.

right4life on May 12, 2009 at 7:38 PM

I live in Florida and I refuse to vote for someone who stood on stage with Obama and supported his Porkulus bill. Those of you who say is is a lock for the Senate are selling out. We do not need anymore Mccains, Spectors, Collins, etc. Let elect fiscal conservatives that will get us out of this socialist mess we are heading into!

shamik on May 12, 2009 at 8:29 PM

Crist is a freakin’ RINO just like Martinez. We Conservatives must defeat him in the primary.

Dandapani on May 12, 2009 at 9:38 PM

Our two party system is now Socialist and Kinda-Socialist.

angryed on May 12, 2009 at 10:06 PM

…and the RINOs pull the GOP AND America farther into the grave.

nelsonknows on May 12, 2009 at 11:09 PM

Well this could be very interesting. Jeb Bush is supporting Rubio and McCain Crist… I’ll put my $ on Rubio in this fight…

Rapunzel on May 12, 2009 at 11:49 PM

Jeb Bush is supporting Rubio and McCain Crist

If you’re right on that it I will be impressed if Jeb helps take down a RINO for Rubio. If he backs down to let the Party’s pick walk over he’ll be cutting his throat.

rcl on May 13, 2009 at 2:11 AM

If Rubio crist would win, it would still cost the NRSC America more.

Fixed it for ya.

Your welcome.

peacenprosperity on May 13, 2009 at 7:00 AM

Same crap, different toilet. Crist=different toilet.

varnson on May 13, 2009 at 7:23 AM

Crist would have voted with Specter, Snowe, and Collins in favor of the Porkulous spending bill. The NRSC endorsing Crist is the equivalent of endorsing Specter. If Crist wins, we have someone who will vote against the majority of Republicans on spending issues. How does this make sense?

Marco 2010.

Angry Dumbo on May 13, 2009 at 8:25 AM

Thus far the efforts at purging the party and the Congress have lead us to the most radically left Congress and White House in a generation. I think maybe you need to rethink your strategy.

Terrye on May 12, 2009 at 5:36 PM

Respectfully, your assertion begins on the false premise that Senator McCain is a conservative.

His positions on illegal immigration, climate change, and tax cuts do not place him within the conservative camp. Conservatism did not lose in 2008, it was not on the ballot.

The greater issue for me is to draw a clear distinction between the parties, Governor Crist does not provide such a contrast. If the Republican Party stands for nothing more than winning, people will just become Democrats and save the effort.

Marco 2010.

Angry Dumbo on May 13, 2009 at 8:37 AM

Looks to me as if the RINO’s are trying to shore up their positions within the GOP. I hope they fail. Again!

DannoJyd on May 13, 2009 at 9:39 AM

The U.S. Senate seat is being vacated by retiring Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., creating a coveted opening. While Crist would only be eligible for one more term as governor because of term limits, U.S. senators often stay for life.

This way we can have a Mel look alike for decades to come and ensure big losses for the GOP, bigger government, citizenship for illegal immigrants, Universal Health, and all the things that the Powells and Frums of the world like to see the GOP endorse and promote and cheering for while on the sidelines watching the Democrats quickly go to town destroying a free American and turning it into Europe Lite.

Sultry Beauty on May 13, 2009 at 2:08 PM

I say that I am extending a BAN on the National Republican Senatorial Committee. I will not support it. I will not donate to it. The have undermined everything conservative and have forced us into a uphill battle election after election.

Funny in all these endorsements on their website they say, “Curb spending, create jobs, lower taxes, control debt.” What a joke. In the last 10 years we have they done any of that?

Sultry Beauty on May 13, 2009 at 2:25 PM

Just another RINO that does not need to be in Washington. He was in favor of Obama’s economic stimulus package, and campaiged with the President. He was thrilled with the money sent to Florida & let it be known to all.
I live in Florida & will not vote for him.
We don’t need another Arlan Spector.

Gulf Coast on May 13, 2009 at 3:21 PM

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