FL-Sen: Crist Makes it Official, Cornyn Endorses, Rubio Fires Back

A few months ago, this possibility seemed shocking, and nothing if not remote. But now it’s happened:

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist announced Tuesday morning he will run for U.S. Senate.

On his Twitter page, Crist wrote, “After thoughtful consideration with my wife Carole, I have decided to run for the U.S. Senate.”

Twitter – how cute. Quite unusually (but you can understand the motivation), John Cornyn and the NRSC instantly endorsed Crist. Conservative belle du jour Marco Rubio fired right back (also on Twitter! how savvy): “Disappointed GOP senate comm endorses Crist on day 1. Remember that reform must always come from the outside. Status quo won’t change itself.”

Rubio also released a new attack ad (not sure if it’s airing on TV, or if it’s just web fodder) linking Obama and Crist, with a photo showing them embracing. If Crist survives the primary, this tactic might wind up doing him a favor, assuming Obama is still popular in eighteen months from now. But the Republican contest ought to be a lot of fun no matter what.

In any event, with polling showing Crist far ahead in the GOP primary, the Swing State Project is changing its rating on FL-Sen from Tossup to Likely R – for now. It’s still early. We also anticipate changing our rating on the FL-Gov race soon, too.


99 thoughts on “FL-Sen: Crist Makes it Official, Cornyn Endorses, Rubio Fires Back”

  1. It’s not TV length, and it’s cheapo.

    One thing I can say for sure is that if Crist wins the primary after sustaining frequent attacks that he’s too close to Obama, he’s a lock for the general.  

  2. This abandonment of a Cuban-American candidate in Rubio in favor of Crist will no doubt result in some backlash among the ever shrinking Florida Republican Hispanic community.  Especially if the primary gets ugly.  

  3. Crist’s smartest move might be to switch parties now, proclaim himself pro-choice, and waltz into the seat.  

  4. I keep hearing all this about Crist and McCollum hating each other and since it’s a closed primary, could the wingnuts come out in droves for both races, galvanized by McCollum for governor?

  5. Will Rubio do anything with the gay line of attack against Crist, or not?  It seems unlikely to be a good strategy to do anything too direct.  But maybe Rubio will attack Crist for being a moderate on some gay-rights related issue, or something of that kind, as a way of backhandedly suggesting that Crist is too gay “friendly.”  (How is Crist on gay issues, anyway?)  Hard to predict.

  6. in the primary.

    Will he stay out of it on the sidelines?

    Or will he jump in guns blazing for Rubio against Crist?

    This will be interesting.

  7. Probably time to update the gubernatorial ratings as well, since that’s now an open seat.  Sink verus McCollum would definitely be a toss-up at this point.

  8. The ad does say it’s 37 seconds long, but it really end at about 30 seconds, so I thought perhaps it was just sloppy editing. However, the bigger problem is that it doesn’t say, “I’m Marco Rubio and I approve this message.”

  9. A natural base for Crist would be moderate Cuban Republicans, although theres certainly many more moderates and moderate conservatives in the FL GOP electorate who will rally behind Crist.  

  10. which, IIRC, also requires that the candidate show his/her face for a certain period of time.

  11. There are still a LOT of Panhandle/rural Central Florida DINOS who cannot vote in the Repub primary because they remain registered Dems.  These are among the most conservative of all Floridians and their not being able to vote in the Republican primary helps moderates get nominated.

  12. why Huckabee bombed in the primary last January, but Edwards still made a showing in the beauty contest.  

  13. vote for a Hispanic?  For all we know they may vote for Crist over Rubio in a primary.

  14. I’m having trouble finding a map of the 2004 republican Senate primary results.  That Martinez v. McCollum race might give us some insight.

  15. Looks like Martinez did undeperform by a good bit in the rural DINO counties.  Though it should be noted that in the 2004 primary Martinez was the more moderate candidate and McCollum the conservative.  The situation will be reversed in 2010 as Crist is by far the more moderate candidate.  This could result in a better performance by Rubio in the areas Martinez did poorly in.

  16. Is Martinez’s huge margin in Miami-Dade. He racked up about 90,000 votes more than his nearest rival, more than half of his margin of victory.

    That kind of margin isn’t just down to issues. There’s a strong ethnic component to that and if Rubio can take advantage of that then all he needs is a bubba candidate to hoover up votes from Crist in the north and he has a path to victory.

  17. It’s a Democratic-leaning county overall.  My guess is because it’s a bit less diverse than the state as a whole.  Until very recently there were few Hispanics here.  The republicans in this county tend to be the wealthy elderly condo owners and beachfront estate rich folk who I suppose are more predisposed to vote for the McCollum.

  18. If you look at the Panhandle counties you’ll notice how well Gallagher did despite his poor statewide total.  His candidacy really split the white vote and helped Martinez.`

  19. This south and east for liberal retirees, north and west for conservatives.  On the west coast the only place I can think of where there are a large number of Dem-leaning retirees is in Pinellas (FL-10).

  20. at least from an electoral perspective.  I’ve yet to see any real evidence that Rubio will be any more than a nuisance on his way to a landslide victory.

    Crist decisively won a Republican primary just three years ago.

  21. My first thought was to not take that post as more than a snark.  But then I began to wonder why Crist would throw away an easy Gubernatorial re-election to be in a sub-40 seat Senate minority.  Maybe he never had any intention on being in the minority.  lol

  22. I doubt Meek would just lay down after the impressive amount of fundraising work he has done for the Senate race.

    That would be an interesting issue for Obama and the DNC. What to do.

    Does Obama have any significant enough job slots left open that he could offer Meek?

  23. http://www.redstate.com/dan_mc

    it’s pretty funny.  Apparently Crist is screwing the state over by going back on his choice to run for re-election, a choice I dont remember him ever making.

    Reason two for hating Crist for entering the Senate race  “(2) Crist Is Throwing His Weight Against A Rising Star”    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!  No, he wants to be a Senator you idiots.

    That site is just tragic, I love reading it when I’m bored.

  24. That’s a big deal in the GOP, and although there probably hasn’t been as much party switching as Pennsylvania, I’m sure a significant number of moderate republicans left the GOP between ’07 and today.

  25. Could you clarify what your saying there?

    I’m asking if McCollum in the governor’s race could galvanize conservatives across the spectrum.  I’m not sure what him having a primary challenger has to do with that.

  26. What kind of threat Adam Putnam would be. Im sure McCollum will get the solid conservative base but could Opie really grab the moderates and moderate/pragmatic conservatives?  

  27. I’ll bet if Crist starts seeing his internal numbers falling for the repub primary he’ll start polling himself against Meek and Gelber in the Dem primary.  He’s no fool.

  28. have a way of attracting party switchers in legislative bodies. I could actually see it happening.

  29. I can’t disagree with a word of it. Whoever  wrote it knows politics pretty well, IMO. Crist’s running for Senate helps himself to the detriment of his party.  

    If Rubio can raise some money, he WILL give Crist fits. Federal office IS different than state office.  I have a strong feeling that Coryn and The FL GOP will regret this day, and a lot sooner than some on this board think.

    Menendez will be kicking himself if there isn’t a strong candidate in this race, come next September.

    What is the story on Gelber?  Is he a Democratic Rubio?   If so, he might be a good choice.            

  30. But not the confrontational “in your face” type.  More of the Senator Casey Jr. type who is opposed for personal reasons but doesn’t push the issue very much.

    Crist has made four FL Supreme Court appointments so far as Governor, two pro-life conservatives and two moderates.

  31. He ran as a pro-life candidate for Gov. and said hed support banning abortion, in FL, should Roe v Wade be overturned but i know he at one time technically supported Roe v Wade. And never heard him explicitly say ‘Im for overturning it’. Would be kind of odd to, on one hand, support upholding Roe v Wade yet want to ban abortion if its overturned. I just dont get that. But maybe I read the wrong things.

  32. While itd certainly feel frustrating being in that minority maybe he doesnt have to work nearly as hard in a filibuster-proof Senate, as things will be sped along quicker I would think. Maybe Im wrong, though.  

  33. While he’ll never be a liberal I could see him being a solid economic & socially moderate Democrat. Although who knows, hes still young…he could always shift quite left.  

  34. I was told their was a special place in hell for me Anthony Kennedy when I said I agreed with the legal basis of his opinion on the habeus corpus rights of Gunatanamo Bay detainees because U.S. Military bases are considered American soil, (that’s why McCain was able to run for president, he was born in the Canal Zone, and its also why my friends who were born on a military base in Germany can run for President one day).  

  35. I’m just as conservative as the next guy and landing Crist to run for Senate is a home run for the NRSC and John Cornyn

    If we are ever going to return to becoming a Majority Party we need to find the BEST candidates to run for office. I like Marco Rubio and at 38 has a very bright future ahead of him. (why not run for Gov)

    Here are the facts –

    Crist has almost universal name id in Florida

    Crist has very high favorable ratings

    Crist has run and won state wide.

    Crist can raise a ton of money.

    Those are all good things in looking for a candidate. Even more importantly is this fact – With Crist in the race the NRSC will likely not have to make much if any investment in the race. This will save them millions of dollars which they can thus spend in other races.

    This is how you win majorities. This is the type of tough calculation the Democrats have been making and winning.

    I wish Crist well and feel like we are finally making the smart decisions that will begin our road back to becoming the majority party.

    That guys thoughtful statement was replied to with a “Blah blah blahhh!”

  36. Theres certainly an argument to be made that a solid conservative has a great shot at winning that Senate seat. But the conservatives need to remember that if Crist is the nominee its very likely staying Republican. And thus millions of dollars would not have to be spent on it and could be spent elsewhere. And this is the most important part but something the conservatives will refuse to agree with: Its a good thing to have more moderates in your caucus. Because, you know, having a healthy sized ‘moderate wing’ in your Senate caucus helps to convince swing voters youre a ‘big tent party’. The GOP isnt there yet but it has the potential to be within the next few years if they work hard enough at bringing in moderate Senators. America has a strictly 2 party system and those parties cannot be successful if its just a one tent party. Its impossible. Conservatives need to wake up and realize that.

  37. And, to Cornyn’s credit, hes at least talking/or talked to alot of moderate Republicans like Crist, Simmons (well, hed be conservative for CT), Pataki, Castle, Kirk, Ridge, Im sure Gerlach, maybe some others. Although that has more to do with winning than anything else. Cant say I blame that way of thinking as its his job to win races. Although the embrace of Rob Portman scratches my head to no end.  

  38. Rubio would be an underdog against Meek.

    However if Crist had not run, and Rubio won a four-way primary, Rubio would have been the favorite against Meek.

    The difference is that now, Rubio is going to be perceived as a wingnut from a party that rejects moderates.  It is similar to Toomey here in PA.

  39. That there’s a good chance Crist becomes one of those handful of moderate repubs like Snowe and Collins who brokers deals with Democrats to get things done in the Senate.  Though even that may not make much of an impact if Dems get up to 63-65 seats after 2010.

  40. Meek’s strongest supporter is Bill Clinton.  If Crist did switch parties it would present national Dems with a big dilemma given how close Meek and the clintons are.

  41. Putnam is still young and not well known statewide.  I think he’ll stick to running for Agriculture to build up his name rec for some bigger run later on down the road.

  42. If Rubio’s campaign doesn’t get much traction I think he’ll definately pull “the gay card” on Crist.  But even if he does I think it will backfire.

  43. There are plenty of social conservative groups that will get the word out via a whisper campaign which can be pretty devastating.  Other than that, Crist can only go so long before someone he slept with starts talking.  It’s just a matter of time either way.

  44. Jeb is not going to run.  He’s raking in his millions in the private sector and has shown no interest in elected politics.

  45. George P. Bush (do I have that right?) recently took Crist to task as a “liberal” Republican.  Even if Daddy Jeb doesn’t make an open endorsement what his son does as far as endorsing/fundraising could speak volumes.

  46. Still live in Texas? Maybe he moved back to Florida, though. From what ive seen of him hes telegenic and charismatic when speaking. If he chooses a life in politics I wonder if hed choose FL, where he may be more well known, or TX which might be easier, statewide, should he get the GOP nomination.  

  47. Even some pastors might give a sermon saying ‘we need to be careful about having homosexuals be our nations; leaders’, without explicitly saying anything political (as they may not want to risk having the feds looking at their tax-exempt status). Even though many of those same pastors will say, ‘oh but I have gay friends and gay congregants’ to the mainstream media. I guess to them its ok to have a gay friend but not a gay senator…whatever.  

  48. George P. Bush’s mother (Jeb’s wife) is Mexican, so in Texas he would have a good deal of cross party support with the large number of Mexican-Americans, but little support in a republican primary where whites dominate the vote.  On the other hand he’d have a natural base of support in the primary in Florida where there actually are a good number of republican Hispanics.

    Hard to say which state he’d have more success in, though I’d tend to think Florida.

  49. North Miami Mayor Kevin Burns, on our side of the aisle, so we could see some of that regardless of Crist.

    That said, this race sure isn’t lacking for diversity-a Cuban American Republican, Rubio, Two African Americans from both parties, Meek and Marion Thorpe Jr., an openly gay man, Burns, and then….well…Crist.

  50. it would be someone that could beat a blooodied Crist too.

    A Kay Hagan-quality state senator or a solid member of the U.S. House will do, if either one (Gelber or Meek) fits that description. Someone with a statewide race under there belt might be better though.

  51. I have my doubts about “Miami liberals” (let alone a minority Miami liberal) winning statewide. Florida is not anything like New York or Illinois.  

  52. I’ll bet Jeb ends up endorsing Rubio.  It’s no secret that Jeb doesn’t care much for Crist and is good friends with Rubio.

  53. But VERY close to Leans D.  Sink is definately favored over McCollum.  But it’s a tossup until we sort out who is running.

  54. Crist may be the top Republican elected official in FL, and easily the most electable for Senator, but hes not an uncumbent Senator. So many Floridian Republicans wont feel its their ‘duty’ to support Crist.  

  55. But theres alot of anti-latino bigotry here in Texas. Perhaps even moreso than anti-African American bigotry. Never thought Id say that but its just what Ive noticed. It may hurt him in the GOP primary, in TX, especially if hes always seen speaking Spanish.

  56. Jeb Bush and George P. Bush are both Catholic.  I’ll bet that a huge strike against him with evangelicals in a state like Texas despite the fact that he’s very socially conservative.  In Florida being a Catholic is more a plus than a minus, but not in Texas.

  57. I doubt Crist and McCollum will endorse one another in their respective primaries.  There is also sure to be a rift among other state legislators.  Republicans in the state legislature by and large like Rubio more than Crist.  My guess is the national party will heavily back Crist and the local republicans and conservative institutions will back Rubio.

  58. Amongst Evangelicals, although maybe there is in the more rural areas. But if his strongest challenger is an Evangelical then the Evangelical base may go with a fellow Evangelical due to ‘identity politics’. But here in the Houston suburbs maybe it wouldnt matter too much. Evangelicals seem to be very friendly with the vast number of Cajun Catholics here. So they might be thinking, ‘well theyre not so different after all..’

  59. One of the biggest Texan Latino Republicans, Henry Bonilla, is actually a Protestant (hes Methodist). Lots of Latino Protestants here in Texas.  

  60. and the only statewide elected democrat in FL is alex sink, and my sense is that the ones who lost were not future stars.

    the question at this point is whether this race is just like warner/gilmore in va.  i think not because:

    1) crist will have a tough primary against a legitimate candidate

    2) meek has already raised piles more cash than gilmore ever saw

    3) meek is not known as an extremist or incompetent (as gilmore was)

    sure, crist is the fave but those gaudy poll numbers maybe his peak.

  61. Crist has got no where to go but down.  It will be tough defeating him, but it’s still possible, and I think well worth the effort.  Hopefully, Rubio takes him out in the primary though.

  62. to Obama. You’re just getting in from a late night out at the bars, right? Or you have a bad head cold and took a triple dose of NyQuil?

  63. that Florida wouldnt vote for a black candidate is a moot point.  Clearly Meek is light years from the awesomeness of Obama but if FL is willing to do it once, it can certainly do it again two years later.  I initially was like, wha?  A black man can’t win statewide in FL.  One has.

    To say a black candidate from a very liberal portion of the state can’t win statewide just simply is unfounded and isnt true.  They’ll have a harder time winning, no doubt, but Obama pulled it off once, another could do it again.  Meek being that guy is doubtful though.

  64. and saying it is barely remotely probable are two different animals.

    Obama, transformational candidate and organizational powerhouse that he is, with a near perfect political climate, won 51% of the vote.

    Can a black liberal candidate theoretically win there again in the next two years? Technically, yes. If he is Obama-League. Which currently describes no other politician – black, white, or purple – in the United States of America.  

  65. But the problem for Rubio is that he doesn’t have a Central Florida base.  Mel Martinez was Orange County (Orlando) Mayor before he ran for Senate, so he had a natural base in Central FL as well as South FL.  Rubio needs to really campaign hard in Central FL to win this thing.

  66. Meek isn’t THAT liberal.  He’s quite moderate given his district.  But ya, it’ll still be easy to define him as liberal since he represents a heavily democratic Miami district.

  67. That Meek has hired a lot of the Obama talent and has run an excellent ground game so far.  I would also make the argument that Meek, while not on par with Obama (so few of us are) that he has a lot going for him-he has far more charisma and toughness then people seem to be expecting of him.  Further, we’re not out of the woods yet when it comes to the economy and Crist abandoning the state when it needed real work and real reform is going to come back to bite him and the state Republicans in the long run.

  68. But he’s still plenty liberal for Florida as a whole.  I don’t think though that just calling someone “a big scary baby eating liberal” or whatever is going to cut it much anywhere anymore, especially if we stop running from the label and start pushing back.

  69. His public comments have been a comedy of errors thus far.  You give Meek far too much credit.

  70. Like his comments on Crist’s performance as Governor? When he’s trying to defeat him in an election?

    Oh yeah, he’s Clubber Lang in a suit this guy.  

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