Moderate Charlie Crist To Quit GOP, Run For Senate As Independent, Sources Say
With staunch conservative Marco Rubio well ahead in the primary poll, two independent sources have come out saying that Governor Charlie Crist (R-FL) is going to quit the Republican Party and run for the US Senate as an Independent.
As part of a growing trend over the last year, a re-energized hardline conservative movement in America is pushing out against center-right Republicans for the 2010 midterms. This battle is reminiscent of the one for the US House in the NY-23 district last November. According to CNN:
“A battle for a vacant Republican U.S. House seat worked against the GOP in upstate New York. The contest to fill the seat sparked a vicious internal fight between party conservatives and moderates. The struggle was viewed as a proxy for a national struggle between activists arguing Republicans slipped by betraying conservative values and officials warning a rightward move would further alienate an increasingly independent-minded electorate. The split resulted in the election of Bill Owens, the first Democratic congressman from that region since 1872.”
Marco Rubio is the sweetheart of the Florida conservatives, a son of Cuban exiles, young, outspoken, and a former Speaker of the State House. Although just a few months ago, he was very far behind in the polls to the popular Crist, his campaign closed the gap and according to the latest poll was now a comfortable 18 points ahead in the Republican primary.
Charlie Crist is the former Attorney General and Governor of Florida, following Jeb Bush. He gained a the ire of staunch conservatives on a number of occasions for stances ranging from supporting the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus bill) and opposing some offshore drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico. Other stances he took were equally attacked by an increasingly conservative Florida Republican Party, such as:
Crist was noted for his efforts to expand the authority of the office to prosecute civil rights violations and protect the environment, as well as his involvement in the Terri Schiavo case, where he broke with the stance of governor Jeb Bush. As governor he has taken conservative positions on a broad range of social issues, including support for gun rights and capital punishment and opposition to elective abortion, same-sex marriage and LGBT adoption.
The suspected move by Crist to quit the GOP comes as his poll numbers have been trending negatively for weeks, and it looks increasingly unlikely that he will be about to mount a comeback. These reports are currently anonymous and unverified however.
According to the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, “Another well-placed source tells me the reason several Crist campaign staffers left recently is because, being committed Republicans, they refused to take part in an independent Senate run by Crist. That’s not confirmed by an independent second source, but it does ring true.”
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