FL-Sen: Conservative Backlash Brewing Against Crist?

An interesting and in-depth look from Tampa Bay Online:

Florida Republican Party circles are hearing increasing talk of conservative dissatisfaction with Gov. Charlie Crist and a possible primary challenge if he runs for the U.S. Senate next year.

Crist’s high poll ratings, which muted such criticism early in his term, remain high, pollsters say, but are no longer preventing the talk.

Some conservatives, never happy with Crist’s emphasis on racial diversity, environmental regulation and populist willingness to take on big business, are now saying it openly.

“It’s the kind of disappointment that’s going to have people looking in other directions for leaders,” said former state Rep. Dennis Baxley of Ocala, now executive director of the Florida Christian Coalition. “The conservative movement needs a strong leader.”

The article confirms that the two most likely folks to take on Crist are former House speakers Marco Rubio and Alan Bense. While the poll numbers look daunting right now, I’d point out that long odds and self-defeating primaries are nothing new to the conservative movement. Incidentally, Pat Toomey had atrocious poll numbers just weeks before his 2004 primary with Arlen Specter; he lost by just two points and is now poised to spank Snarlin’ Arlen hard next year in their rematch. Oh, and Crist wouldn’t even be the incumbent. It’s doable.

Me, I’m like the dog:

56 thoughts on “FL-Sen: Conservative Backlash Brewing Against Crist?”

  1. I doubt Rubio will be able to beat Crist.  Maybe Vern Buchanan could, he’s pretty nutty.  The good thing about Florida (for us) is that it’s a closed primary state, if Crist starts tanking among the party faithful, that might be enough for an opponent to gain traction.

  2. against Perry. Texas has open primaries so even though KBH isn’t a favorite of die hard conservatives she can still win by pulling in the moderate reps, democrats and independents. I’m not convinced Crist will make the jump. He’s very popular in Florida why go to DC to be 1/100?  

  3. hutchison, not hutchinson, and leech not leach.  sorry to be such an insufferable pedant, but these are common mistakes on lots of threads all bundled up in one here.

    shoo is the same word as in shoo-fly pie and referred to horses that were certain to win because the races had been rigged for them.

    whether are not these primaries are open only makes a little difference because the people who vote in primaries are generally party believers.  while hutchison is relatively sane by TX standards, i can’t think of how she could motivate moderates or democrats to come out to vote in a primary they never would otherwise without saying or doing something that would antagonize the majority of the GOP primary electorate.

    as for crist even if he won a tough contested primary, he might be damaged enough in a primary to either lose his base or lose moderates. so please jump into the dryer, marco, you’re a star!

  4. For one thing, Crist’s approval ratings in Florida in astounding, and John Coryn is actively trying to recruit him into the Senate Race. If Crist did jump in, he would likely have the support of both the national and the Florida GOP.

    While some conservatives in Florida clearly don’t like how he supported Obama’s stimulus, Crist is no where near as liberal as Spectar, and in addition, any conservative challanger to Crist would be very weak compared to Toomey who is likely to run against Spectar. Rubio isn’t that prominent enough to credibly challange Crist and I don’t think there are any others Republicans who would be willing to take him out. Even if he did face a spirited challange, it’s unlikely it would hurt him. If Crist made it past the primary the GOP is not going to vote for the Democrat and they aren’t going to stay at home. And because Crist is overwhelming popular with indepedents and has some appeal to Democrats, he would almost certainly walk away with the Florida Senate seat (although he wouldn’t be as strong as he would have been if there wasn’t such conservative discontent).

    In terms of why Crist would run for the Senate rather than for reelection, it is likely because he has very long term goals in his political career. He can only run for Gov. for two consecutive terms then he is done. If he runs for Senate then he could run (and likely win) reelection for as long as he wants. Also, if sees that 2012 would be too hard to run for the GOP presidential nomination, he could try instead in 2016 in which Obama would be term limited out of office. It is also much easier for Crist to win a open Senate seat in 2010 then to challange Bill Nelson in 2012 for his Senate seat.

  5. Palin is not running for senate in 2010 according to the Fix.  

    I am a stuanch liberal… (A gay 21 year old college graduate living in Austin)  and I plan on voting for Kay in the primary.  Rick Perry has been a BAD governor and it is pretty likely that the republican will win.  So I will vote for the less of two evils and support the dem (most likely a former bush ambassador) once the general starts.

    I know a lot of people feel the same way… and by people I mean democrats.

  6. What the heck did this line mean: “never happy with Crist’s emphasis on racial diversity”? Is it code for Crist being in the closet or something?

    It would be nice if the wingnuts would mount a challenge to Crist even if he ran for re-election as gov!

  7. Sorry, but Charlie Crist’s potential primary situation is not comparable to Snarlin’ Arlen’s.

    Crist already won a contested primary for Governor just 3 years ago, and at that time he already was regarded as a moderate and was ideologically disliked by a lot of conservatives.  And just last year, McCain and Giuliani were equally ideologically disliked by a lot of those same conservatives and still combined for a majority of presidential primary votes.

    It’s hard to argue that the Republican primary electorate will have changed so much so quickly.

    And I don’t know that anything Crist has done as Governor has particularly surprised anyone or would be damning to a primary electorate.  I doubt the average primary voter cares so much about Crist’s strong support of voting rights, and I doubt he would bleed much support for supporting Obama on the stimulus bill.

    If Crist wants the Senate seat, it’s his unless he’s more fully “outed” as gay or otherwise suffers some NEW politically damaging problem.

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