April 23, 2010

Around the Nation: GOP Primaries

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is entertaining the possibility of dropping out of the August 24 Republican primary against former state House Speaker Marco Rubio and running as an independent in this year’s Senate race.

Crist’s political fortunes have steadily declined in recent weeks as his Republican credentials have come into question. His public hug with Barack Obama and his support for last year’s stimulus bill haven’t helped his case, and his most recent veto of a bill to end tenure for Florida’s teachers may have been the final straw. The bill, supported by former Gov. Jeb Bush and the state Republican delegation, would have tied teacher salaries to student performance. Crist instead sided with the unions and their inherent disregard of accountability for state employees.

Rubio’s campaign has gained support both in the state and across the country, including the full-throated endorsement of the Tea Party movement. In contrast to Crist’s political expediency, Rubio’s solid conservative credentials and his stance against runaway government spending have raised his popularity and filled his campaign coffers. Even the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee has written off Crist, suggesting that if he is not going to run as a Republican, then he shouldn’t run at all.

If Crist does run as an independent, he could end up being little more than a spoiler allowing Democrat Kendrick Meeks to win the seat. Though Crist seems to be under the impression that he would take enough Republican votes with him to win the race, he no longer has national support and his state support is crumbling by the week. In any event, Crist has until the April 30 filing deadline to decide if he is going to stay in the Republican primary or duck and run and hope for better days.

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