Marco Rubio

Tea Party 2010: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Tea Party movement was, until yesterday, a relatively unknown and elusive electoral force, having never existed for a national federal general election. Clearly, it had a great deal of influence among conservatives and Republicans during the primaries, with well-known "establishment" candidates in states such as Delaware, Alaska, and Nevada being knocked out one after another in favor of "Tea Party" candidates. In the immediate aftermath of the 2010 election (and even with a handful of races still undecided), it is hard to argue that the Tea Party wasn't a notable force in the general election as well. However, that force was not always positive, and indeed, some of the Tea Party's influences were bad, while a few instances were downright ugly. As someone who is neither a card-carrying party loyalist nor a dedicated Tea Party member, here is my take on those forces:

The Good

It is impossible to deny that the Tea Party contributed in many positive ways to the massive change of course that was the 2010 election. The Tea Party fueled much of the outrage behind the outcome, driving conservatives around the country to come out and vote in opposition to the President's extreme agenda.  Accordingly, it seems unlikely that the magnitude of Republican gains in the House would have been possible without the Tea Party.  Indeed, early exit poll data suggested that 41% of those voting in House races supported the Tea Party, while 31% opposed it – and that 87% of Tea Party supporters voted for the Republican candidate.

The Tea Party also helped elect immaculate candidates like Marco Rubio. The energy behind the Tea Party movement helped fuel Marco Rubio's lead in the Republican primary, which resulted in Charlie Crist deciding to instead run as an Independent, and ultimately produced a huge victory for Republicans nationwide. I firmly believe that Rubio, an incredibly brilliant and passionate man who will also happen to be the only Hispanic Republican in the Senate, will quickly emerge as a leader for the Republican Party. He's someone who can help attract many people from demographics key to long-term GOP sustainability – including Latinos and potentially young voters. Senator-elect Rubio's victory is certainly one of the most exciting developments of yesterday's election results.

The Bad

On the other hand, the Tea Party seems to have been fairly damaging to the prospect of a GOP takeover of the Senate. At the time of writing, Republicans had gained 6 seats in the Senate for a total of 46, which is unquestionably a respectable outcome. It looks like the votes remaining to be counted in Washington and Colorado will push the Democratic candidates over the top in both states – and Alaska is still a question mark, though it seems likely that either candidate will caucus with Republicans.

It's distinctly possible (and in at least one of the cases, fairly likely) that at least two of the Democratic Senate victories could have been Republican victories if not for relatively poor Tea Party candidates.  These candidates are, of course, Sharron Angle in Nevada and Christine O'Donnell in Delaware (I'll come back to the latter shortly).

I actually expected Angle to squeak by, albeit very tightly.  The bottom line, however, is that Angle as a candidate left a lot to be desired – just Google "sharron angle gaffe" for a plethora of examples, but this one in particular comes to mind.  Her loss against a highly unpopular and vulnerable Harry Reid is an unambiguous testament to that fact.

Obviously, different results in the two races in Delaware and Nevada – even with the victor in Alaska caucusing with Republicans – would not alone have produced a majority (Republicans would then hold 49 seats in the Senate before CO and WA).  However, it seems hard to believe there won't be a battle in the Senate sometime over the next two years in which those two additional Republican Senators would be helpful.  Not to mention the possibility that Independent Senators Lieberman and Nelson may have chosen to caucus with Republicans.

The Ugly

There's Sharron Angle, and then there's Christine O'Donnell.  I have to make it clear up front that I think Ms. O'Donnell is a wonderful woman.  I had a meeting with her and her campaign manager shortly before she exploded onto the national scene, and I found her well-spoken, intelligent, and extremely personable.  But being a great person is not nearly enough in politics, particularly at the Senatorial level, and there's no way that a reasonable person can honestly say that she was remotely close to being even an acceptable candidate.  When you need to run an ad saying that you're "not a witch," your campaign is clearly in trouble.  Let alone the countless allegations of impropriety in handling campaign funds, which regardless of whether they are true make it unmistakenly clear that the Tea Party members who backed her candidacy and helped her defeat Mike Castle in the primary blatantly failed to properly vet her.

Karl Rove's thoughts on this are spot-on:

"It gave me no pleasure to say that she was unlikely to win," he said. "But this again provides a lesson. This is a candidate who was right on the issues, but who had mishandled a series of questions brought up by the press."

From start to finish, Christine O'Donnell's candidacy as the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Delaware was flat out ugly.

Bottom Line

Even with a handful of outcomes still up in the air, it is unmistakenly clear that the 2010 election was nothing less than a wave delivered by voters who resoundingly rejected the Democratic agenda.  A great deal of outrage came from members of the Tea Party movement, and that frustration played an important role in delivering substantial gains for Republicans – not only in the Congress, but also in governor's mansion and state legislatures around the nation.  However, with these positives came at least one significant negative – a larger than ideal Democratic margin in the Senate that resulted from a couple of poor Tea Party candidates.

Up The Establishment

Conservative Tea Partyby Lance Thompson

The media has focused on the growing rift between new conservative stars and their Tea Party backers versus the old guard establishment Republicans.  This difference has been highlighted in races in Florida (Marco Rubio over Charlie Crist), Alaska (Joe Miller over Lisa Murkowski), and most recently Delaware (Christine O’Donnell over Mike Castle).  In each case, a conservative outsider has overcome long odds to beat an experienced but more moderate candidate backed by the Republican establishment.  This trend shows every indication of continuing.
 
Christine O’Donnell, now the Republican candidate for Delaware’s open Senate seat, will face Democrat Chris Coons in November.  Polls show O’Donnell trailing in double digits.  This is a familiar situation to conservative candidates this year.  Marco Rubio trailed governor Charlie Crist by double digits in the Florida primary before winning the Republican Senate nomination.  Crist then declared himself an independent (refusing to return the millions in Republican campaign funding he had already received), and again took a double digit lead.  This race has reversed to Rubio’s advantage.  Joe Miller in Alaska was also behind in the polls before his win over Lisa Murkowski.
 
In all of these cases, old guard Republican strategists and pundits warned voters that the conservative Tea Party candidates were too extreme, and would not have the appeal to win.  Let’s examine both arguments individually.
 
First, in an era of rampant and unchecked socialism rammed through by an ultra-liberal President and Congress, there is no other possible cure than a conservative resurgence.  We didn’t get socialized medicine, skyrocketing debt, and a crippled economy by half measures and bipartisanship.  We arrived here thanks to a Democratic steamroller that paved the way for every item that’s appeared on the liberal wish list for the last two generations.  The only way to reverse this trend is to put strong, principled, undiluted conservatives in office and in power.  Moderates will not do.
 
Second, the fact that Tea Party candidates are prevailing all over the country, in states previously thought too blue to bother, demonstrates that the enthusiasm, power, and momentum this election year is with conservative candidates who connect with the people.  The pundits who now tell us that these candidates, once nominated, can’t win the general election are the same ones who told us earlier that these candidates would not win in their primaries. 
 
Have we not nominated moderate conservatives before?  Wasn’t John McCain known for reaching across the aisle?  Wasn’t he always tougher on conservative Republicans than he ever was on Democrats?  His even-handedness and bipartisan reputation was supposed to guarantee support from independent voters and the press.  Instead, his inept campaign was so ineffective that an opponent with no executive experience, less than one full term in the Senate, and no discernible aptitude for world leadership beat him handily in 2008.
 
And even when the Republicans place moderate, established, electable candidates on the ballot, and they do actually win, they are notable undependable when needed most.  Moderate Arlen Specter enjoyed the support of the GOP and President Bush over conservative challenger Pat Toomey for the 2004 Pennsylvania Senate primary.  Specter prevailed and paid back the GOP with liberal votes on the judiciary committee and by switching parties prior to his 2010 re-election bid.  He failed to win the Democrat nomination, and is now thankfully out of politics.  Moderate electable candidates do not serve conservative causes or interests.
 
If we believe in conservative principles, we must nominate and elect conservative candidates.  This year, more than ever, watered-down, moderate, half measures are not enough.
 
The American people are restive.  They are preparing to throw out a record number of Democrats from Congress and state governments across the country.  If the Republicans who replace them don’t put our nation back on the right course, they will be thrown out as well.  We won’t get a second chance to get it right.
 
Christine O’Donnell is a principled conservative.  She deserves our support.  The establishment may fight her tooth and nail.  But Christine O’Donnell has already defeated them.  They just don’t know it yet.  Burt Lancaster said it best in the film “Sweet Smell of Success,” when his character, powerful columnist J. J. Hunsecker, tells struggling publicity agent Sydney Falco that Falco’s influence is over.  “You’re dead, kid.  Go get yourself buried.”

 

FL Senate: Charlie's Comeback (and how he could be stopped)

If there is only one person in the world for whom the oil spill disaster in the Gulf is a blessing in disguise, that man is Charlie Crist.

From photos of the Governor surveying the spill to soundbites of him demanding full compensation for Florida's spill related damages, Crist's handling of the spill has offered him the chance to look like a leader, above politics, fighting for Florida. But his favorables, according to Quinnipiac's June 9th survey, haven't changed dramatically from the more difficult days of early 2010 and late 2009. His current job approval, at 57%, is lower than it was in October 2009 when Rubio's insurgency was underway. His favorables today are lower than the October poll as well, currently at 52%.

Meanwhile, Marco Rubio has struggled to pivot out of primary mode and into a general. The shift from running as "the true conservative" to a general election candidate will not be an easy one, and it becomes more and more critical with each tough poll that the Rubio campaign make that transition and begin to build his case to an audience beyond Tea Parties and local GOP groups.

There are a number of things going in Crist's favor - but don't count Rubio out. Five months is an eternity in politics. Looking at the recent polls and exit polling data going back to 1994, there are a variety of factors that will keep this race interesting through November.

1)Florida's unemployment rate is the fifth highest in the nation at 11.7%. There's an anecdote my colleagues and I have been using recently to describe the current political environment. Imagine a run-down house on that is on fire. Sure, the windows need repair, the house could use a coat of pain, the lawn needs to be cut. But until you put out the fire, the rest of that is irrelevant. The fire in politics today is the unemployment rate; until jobs come back to Florida, everything else is a distraction. When you can't drive down a suburban street without seeing foreclosure signs, voters have bigger issues they are voting on than whether or not former party chair Jim Greer had an illegal consulting arrangement with the Florida GOP. The temptation will be high for candidates to get into discussions about party credit card statements and backroom deals but things in Florida are very serious, and voters will respond to the candidates that take the economic crisis seriously.

2) Around one out of four voters in 2010 in Florida is likely to be independent. In the 2006 election, 24% of voters in the Governor's race were independent - a number that jumped to 29% in the Presidential race in 2008, in congruence with the nationwide trend of a small bump in independents. Capturing these voters is key. Currently, Crist is winning 51% of independent voters according to the June 9 Quinnipiac poll. This is not particularly surprising - both Meek and Rubio have been fighting for their partisan supporters - but if Crist continues to sustain a majority of the independent vote, he will be incredibly formidable heading into November.

3) As a result, Rubio must improve his brand with independents. Republicans know Marco Rubio. They love Marco Rubio. Only a quarter haven't formed an opinion about him, and only 11% don't like him. When it comes to locking down his side, he's good. His bigger problem comes from independents, where is fav/unfav is roughly even at 31-30. He absolutely needs to have favorables that are over 50% among independents in order to be competitive with Crist.

4) Kendrick Meek still doesn't have a statewide brand, and if he develops one, he will slightly erode Crist's share of the vote. Crist currently pulls in a whopping 37% of Democratic voters. I believe this has a lot to do with the fact that 69% of voters, including 59% of Democrats, that say they haven't heard enough about Meek to form an opinion. As the election proceeds and all candidates hit the airwaves one can expect Crist's advantage to erode. These days, a candidate can build a brand almost overnight - consider that Rick Scott came out of nowhere and now boasts 53% of Florida voters who have an opinion about him. Meek may not be armed with the same kind of war chest, but by election day it is highly unlikely that Meek will still be an unknown to 7 out of 10 voters.

5) Painting Crist as an opportunist is not enough - people think everyone does what's popular. The conventional wisdom is that if Rubio pulls down Crist's favorables and brands Crist as a political opportunist, he can gain ground. The Quinnipiac poll showed that almost half of Florida voters (48%) think Crist makes decisions based on "what's popular" - a charge they also believe about Marco Rubio (42%). When the question is asked generally about "most public officials", 74% say they usually do what is popular. Fighting the battle over whether or not Crist is "principled" isn't fighting a battle on which Rubio has some major advantage in the general electorate. Furthermore, it's not as if Florida voters didn't see associate Crist's defection from the GOP with ulterior motives - 60% said he left the Republican party because he couldn't win the primary, including 57% of independents. Voters aren't naïve on this point. If Rubio spends five months beating up on Crist as an opportunist and neglecting to build his own favorables among independents, it's not likely to be as productive as he'd like.

Most folks I talk to say that in order for Rubio to have a fighting chance against Crist, he needs to bring down Crist's favorables. Of course, that strategy might yield a slight bump in standing, but I don't believe it is nearly enough to win. Voters already assume politicians do what they need to do to get elected. They already assume Crist has made politically motivated moves in this race. And they vote for him anyways. The problem isn't Crist's favorables, the problem is Rubio's neutral brand image among independents. And the way for Rubio, Crist, or Meek (or any candidate in any race, for that matter) to build that brand is to become the leader on the issue of the economy and jobs.

Crist may be getting a break in the press with his handling of the oil spill. But the ultimate impact of the oil spill is more than environmental, it is economic. If tourism dollars start leaving the state and the economic situation grows more dire, the primacy of the economy in this and all races will become even greater. In January 2007 when Crist was sworn into office, Florida's unemployment rate was 3.5%. Besides March 2007, every month that Charlie Crist has been Governor, Florida's unemployment rate has gotten worse. Even the national unemployment rate doesn't have a trend as dramatically consistent as that, and even though the national rate has levelled off, Florida's keeps getting worse. If Rubio wants to take Crist head on, he should - but with economic policy contrasts that demonstrate both how Crist failed to ameliorate the jobs situation and with how Rubio would propose to fix the problem. Rubio rose to fame as the "ideas" man in Tallahassee, and it is that same focus on "ideas" that can be his ticket to Washington in November.

(This item is cross-posted at Pollster.com)

2010 Predictions

Since we are about to come to the end of the year (and decade), I think it is worthwhile to put some predictions down before anything happens in 2010.  I hope to hear some of yours in the comments:

1. 2010 will be a wave election, reminiscent of 1994.  At this moment, Rothenberg Political Report estimates that Republicans will pick up 15-20 seats in the House, and an unspecified small gain in the Senate.  Charlie Cook predicts solid pickups for the GOP, but somewhat less than taking back the House.  I'm inclined to think that the turnover will be on the higher side.  The popular outrage over the unpopular health care plan and the seeming disregard for public opinion will create the conditions for a conservative populist uprising.  One thing to remember about 1994 was that it was the election that finished the realignment in the South, something that is no longer much of a concern (beyond a few stray Blue Dogs).  For similar gains (54 seats), Republicans will have to win seats in areas like the Rocky Mountains, the Midwest, and Suburban Northeast.  Republicans need 40 seats to win back the House.  I think the odds of that are 50-50.

2.  The epicenter of the wave will be Arkansas.  There is no state in America that John McCain ran so well compared to George W. Bush's 2004 performance.  Arkansas was 3 percent more Republican than the nation in 2004; it was 13 points more Republican than the nation in 2008.  Arkansas was always a traditional hard scrabble Jacksonian Democrat state, economically populist and socially traditional.  Unlike most Southern states, there is still a conservative Democrat presence on the state and local level.  Currently both Senators and 3 of 4 Representatives are Democrats, putting them in a precarious position in a state shifting sharply to the right.  It's three Democrats hold seats that are R+5, R+7, and R+8.  Blanche Lincoln is trailing essentially annonymous state legislators across the board.  I think any serious Republican challenger could beat any Democrat in Arkansas next year.  Arkansas in 2010 will be like Texas in 1994 and Georgia in 2002, the year in which the realignment on the local level is completed.

3.  There could be another party defection or two.  Parker Griffith's switch today is a rare thing, but a toxic political environment for Blue Dog Democrats could tempt some to switch parties.  Would you really be shocked if Bobby Bright (D-AL) or another Southern Democrat flip to save their seats?  There were a series of party switches after 1994, though the South is more solidly Republican now than back then.

4.  Moderate suburban counties will swing back to Republicans.  In 2009 elections, we saw a definite swing towards the GOP in crucial suburban counties.  Bob McDonnell won the heavily populated Fairfax County in Virginia, while Chris Christie won Middlesex and Burlington Counties.  Less noticed were statewide judicial elections in Pennsylvania and county elections in New York State, where Republicans won competitive elections in suburban Philadelphia and New York City.  All of these were counties that the Republican Party was supposed to be incapable of winning, possibly forever.  That narrative didn't even last a year.  I think we will see some surprising successes in places Republicans may have written off in past years.

5.  The Democratic agenda will be practically paralyzed after the health care fiasco.  The health care "reform" process has taken over a half of a year.  Anyone remember when Obama set a deadline of the end of July for a health care deal?  I think no one in the White House realized how difficult and drawn out this process would be.  Now, Obama's first year has passed and he only got around to addressing two items on his agenda.  He hasn't addressed the major problem of unemployment (the stimulus didn't do that effectively).  My guess for what Obama will do is to focus more on fixing the economy (as he should) and I think he will go after the immigration issue.  The White House will do this because it has divided the Republican Party in the past and it needs something to stop the Republican momentum.  Its not a bad gambit, but I think immigration will be different than 2006-2007 because Republicans are no longer in power and have no obligation to a president with a different agenda.  It could actually be divisive towards the Democratic Party.  Immigration cuts along elite/populist lines more than left/right.  I think Dems may be miscalculating if this is the case.

6.  Marco Rubio wins the Florida Senate primary and the general election.  As of right now, the Rubio-Crist primary is about tied, which is a massive upset considering Crist's high name ID.  Look for this race to open up wide in Rubio's favor early in the year, prompting Crist to make one of two choices: drop out and try to re-enter the Governor's race or change parties and win the Democratic primary easily over the hapless Kendrick Meek.  I'm not familiar with Florida election law, so I don't know when primary races have to be finalized.  While Crist is less to the left than Arlen Specter was, he evidences little principle, and a party switch into an easy primary victory wouldn't surprise me.  But I think in either case Rubio wins and becomes the face of the November 2010 victories.

The Fighting Four

Erick Erickson is right.

Let’s be honest. One of the reasons the left is so head over heels in love with the online left is because of the moonbat ability to turn on the cash. [...] [I]f we want to be taken seriously, we need to step up to the plate.

As he says, "the establishment of the Republican Party will keep ignoring us" until the online Right has a tangible impact on the measurable metrics of politics: messaging, mobilization and money.

Support the Fighting Four - Fundraising Widget Get the widget for your site!

 

Don't Bet on Crist Over Rubio

At about this time every three months, we have to endure the typical quarterly fundraising roundups. This one from The Hill shows the problem with the genre, headlined "FEC reports show Crist the man to beat in Florida." This in response to Crist raising an eye-popping $4.3 million in the 2nd quarter, against Marco Rubio's $340,000.

Crist may be a slight favorite in the Republican primary, but money will have nothing to do with why.

I bang this drum pretty often, but ask presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney how far early, high dollar bundler support got them. Or Virginia Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe on how much a 10-to-1 cash advantage is worth.

Underfunded candidates like Rubio don't need more money now. The need an argument. A bulletproof argument from a plausible candidate is worth tens of millions of dollars in any primary, overwhelming a financial advantage of any magnitude. While frontrunners confuse high-dollar fundraising for actual grassroots support, a conclusion that headlines like The Hill's do nothing to discourage, smart underdogs would do right to focus on building an impregnable message advantage. Because that's the part that counts for 90% in any electoral victory.

John McCain's campaign was defunct and broke at this point in the race, without money to pay a pollster. Mike Huckabee had no money. Meanwhile, Rudy Giuliani spent $60 million plus to win a single delegate, attending fundraisers when he should have been in New Hampshire. A leading Republican strategist recently told me that he wonders whether money doesn't wind up making our campaigns worse while the lack of money makes them better and more focused. Look at McCain with no money, vs. McCain with money (pre-implosion and general election).

Crist's fundraising aside, he's still a relatively popular governor with 100% name ID, and so still the "man to beat." But fundraising trophies don't make it so. Complacency is his biggest enemy.

Crist's campaign is the antithesis of Rebuildness. Of Crist's $4.3 million how much was online? How much came from donations of $100 or less? How many people have signed up on his e-mail list since he announced? How many of his supporters would crawl on glass to see him win?

In running a campaign, that latter kind of support is the kind I want, and I think Rubio has it.

And not only that, but he's a particularly strong and plausible kind of grassroots candidate. He's no Mike Huckabee or Ron Paul. Had Crist not stepped in, he'd be considered a top recruit and a rising star. Rubio would easily beat Kendrick Meek in a general election.

We have two uniquely talented people running for Senate in a seat we will probably hold in Florida. Instead of elbowing one aside, we should be grabbing the popcorn and watching this one go the distance.

The primary will be close. Among voters who know both, Crist and Rubio are tied. Crist's money will not buy him more name ID or goodwill; only his bully pulpit as Governor can do that, and he's surrendering it. Meanwhile, Rubio's talents as a candidate, his crossover potential, and his appeal to grassroots conservatives mean he has nowhere to go but up. I still think Crist narrowly wins absent a massive screwup, but I wouldn't bet the farm on it. Recent elections have not been kind to moneyed "frontrunners."

Roger Stone on FL Sen

When one considers that Stone is one of Crist's biggest boosters, this is pretty huge:

 

Florida Musical Chairs By Roger Stone Governor Charlie Crist's decision to run for an open seat in the U.S. Senate instead of seeking re-election as Governor has roiled the waters in Florida. Although Governor Crist is popular, voter reaction to a charge that he has "walked out on the job" before keeping his pledge to lower property taxes and cut insurance rates has not yet been determined. The Governor has not put forward much of a rationale for his candidacy; he most certainly cannot claim that there is nothing left to do in Tallahassee. Naked ambition is rarely an acceptable rationale for voters when politicians explain why they should be elected. Former House Speaker Marco Rubio has wisely announced his intention to challenge Crist in the Republican U.S. Senate primary. This is a no-lose proposition for Marco because losing with 45% would be a victory and winning with 51% would be a victory. Should Rubio bleed Crist badly, the young former Speaker will have lined himself up as the front runner for the Republican nomination for Bill Nelson's seat. If Rubio wins the primary in an upset, he will be even money against any Democrat. It is an article of faith among Florida Democrats that Alex Sink, the State elected CFO, will be the next Governor. I think they may be picking out their inaugural gowns a little too early. While Attorney General Bill McCollum has two statewide losses in his track record, he will easily wrap up the Republican nomination and will mount a better campaign than his previous efforts. Crist could be damaged by a "closer than expected" primary win. His broken promise to "make property taxes drop like a rock" and his failure to reduce insurance rates are even more powerful issues in the general election than they are in the primary. Crist can expect a level of scrutiny in the primary and general that is very unlike the way the media operated in 2006 when Crist was the darling of the conservatives running against former liberal Tom Gallagher. The media has soured on the "tanned one." Crist will also find fundraising more difficult. Between the federal limits and the restrictions on state officials raising federal dollars, it is unlikely that Crist will have the 3 to 1 spending advantage in a senate race that he had in his bid for governor. Congressman Kendrick Meek is an exceedingly weak general election candidate. Republicans in Washington are chortling about the opposition research that ties Meek and his mother, a former congresswoman, to corruption. Yet Meek maintains a strong base in the primary and could emerge handing an easier than expected victory to Crist. It is unlikely that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee will let that happen and a top goal is the recruitment of a candidate in the moderate Lawton Chiles, Rueben, Askew, Bill Nelson mold. Particularly intriguing is the idea of a non-Cuban Hispanic candidate who could appeal to a growing Hispanic base within the Democratic Party. State Senator Dan Gelber, currently a candidate for the U.S. Senate, will probably switch to the open Attorney General's race if he is not named as U.S. Attorney for South Florida by President Obama. Crist could have walked to re-election as could Attorney General McCollum. Instead they both face difficult races and party leaders are petrified with the thought of losing the Governor's office after 12 years of Republican rule.

Rubio v. Crist - a fight for the direction of the GOP

Erick Erickson of Redstate.com has called for a boycott of the NRSC after that body endorsed Gov. Charlie Crist for Mel Martinez's seat over Marco Rubio.

Crist's popularity makes him as close to a sure thing as the Republican Party can find for an empty seat in the election - but Rubio is much more appealing to the base. Rubio's youth, Cuban ethnicity and Catholicism are also a breath of fresh air in a party whose national figures (McConnell, Boehner, McCain, Romney et. al.) are short on all three of those characteristics.

Rubio might do better do stay in Florida and run for Governor - a successful term in the Governor's office would make him 2016 Presidential timber. But he hasn't stepped aside, which would lead to a primary race that would be a microcosm of the broader fight between Republican moderates and right-wingers over the direction the Party should go in.

I like Rubio. His ethnic and religious background, as well as his outsider status, are both welcome breaths of fresh air in a party that hasn't really produced any new figures that are taken seriously outside the party's base. He'd also be a very competitive candidate in a battleground state, and if he won he'd be a valuable asset to the Republican candidate in 2016. Despite this, I think he should stand down in favor of Crist - he's as close to a sure thing as can be found for Republicans this election cycle. He'd free up money and other resources to help Republicans on shakier ground, like Mark Kirk in Illinois. And his already-high national profile would only be increased by a successful Senate campaign. Coming form what has been the quintessential battleground state in the last three elections, he would be a highly visible spokesman for the Republican platform in D.C.

The NRSC is not backing down on the endorsement of Crist over Rubio, specifically attacking the "30 senators" stance made famous by Jim DeMint. With Rubio not ceding to the will of the party, things could get ugly in Florida. Who do you think will win? Who should win? And will the donnybrook in the primaries give the Democrats a shot at the seat?

Marco Rubio: A Modest Proposal

While I'm not a fan of Crist's and I agree with Patrick's assesment of Crist's Senate run, said Senate run, unfortunately, puts us in a bind.  There's no way we can go after Crist without alienating a substantial number of independants.  At the same time Rubio, at least on Paper, appears to be a dream candidate who has the potential to join Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn among our truly fabulous Senators.

Thus, I make the following proposal: Let's clear the field for Crist this cycle and have Rubio keep his powder dry.  Rubio then gets everyone's support to go after Bill Nelson in 2012.

Thoughts/Suggestions?!?

I hope this helps.

Cahnman out.

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