After toppling moderate Republican congressional hopeful Dede Scozzafava in upstate New York, conservatives are making a Florida Senate race the next battle in the war for the party's future. Conservatives are pushing a Reaganite former state House speaker, Marco Rubio, over frontrunner Charlie Crist, the popular moderate governor who broke ranks to back President Obama's economic stimulus plan. Will Charlie Crist be the tea partiers' next victim? (Watch a local report about Charlie Crist being called "overrated")
He should be -- he's no Republican: "This election will be a litmus test to define the will power of party leaders to return to our values," says Armando Valladores in The Miami Herald. Charlie Crist "hoodwinked" conservatives by raising taxes after promising they would "drop like a rock," and he trampled conservative values by appointing a pro-abortion justice to the state Supreme Court over a "more-qualified" conservative. "No Republican should vote for Crist."
"Crist doesn't deserve GOP support"
Attacking Crist is a huge mistake: The "Republican fratricide" in New York cost the party a congressional seat, says David Frum in CNN.com, but the "even more spectacular bloodbath in Florida in 2010" could cost the GOP the presidential election in 2012. Both Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio are "conservative, pro-life, tax cutters" -- they only part ways over President Obama's stimulus, which Crist endorsed and Rubio hates. Rubio has offered no alternative -- his only selling point is his "uncompromising, unremitting opposition to President Obama." The GOP has to offer more than that.
"Republicans heading for a spectacular bloodbath in Florida"
Crist has himself to blame: Charlie Crist's campaign has "sprung a leak," says Alex Isenstadt in Politico, but in many ways it's his own fault. He could have stood his ground when Marco Rubio attacked his position on the economic stimulus -- instead he made "abrupt and awkward attempts to distance himself from Obama." That came off as "a naked attempt to curry favor with conservatives," and raised "questions about his political character." But Crist's huge poll lead and deep campaign war chest could save him.
"Charlie Crist loses his mojo"