Crist v. Rubio: Nine Months Later

If you'll forgive a little bit of self-indulgence, I got a kick out of rereading a post I wrote last April about the campaign ...
by | February 2, 2010

If you'll forgive a little bit of self-indulgence, I got a kick out of rereading a post I wrote last April about the campaign for Senate in Florida between Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio.

I offered up a prescient bit of counter-intuitive wisdom: That Rubio, the upstart House speaker, actually would have a chance against Crist, the popular governor. But, to cover my backside, my argument was laden with caveats -- so laden that I can't give myself any credit for seeing this coming.

Well, now two new polls show Rubio ahead of Crist in the Republican primary by double digits. So, I've moved on to writing counter-intuitive posts that say Crist actually has a chance against Rubio. Of course, I made sure to note that Crist might be doomed if the economy doesn't recover. We can all be glad that my backside is covered.

Anyways, here's an excerpt from the post:

And that gets to the second reason for a Rubio candidacy against Crist: The former speaker would have a chance to win. Crist is popular with the general public. But, in a potentially low-turnout primary that likely will be dominated by conservatives, Rubio would have a chance.

Besides running as the true low-tax candidate and the opponent of gambling and cap-and-trade (all good positions in a Republican primary), Rubio would be able to criticize Crist for supporting President Obama's economic stimulus package and, perhaps soon, for opposing a change in voting laws pushed by Republicans.

Crist will be the more moderate candidate in the primary, which often is a challenging position. Jeb Bush more-or-less dubbed Rubio his ideological successor, so Jeb's former supporters may rally to his cause.

None of this will matter, of course, if Crist raises so much more money than Rubio that the former speaker can't get his message out. Plus, despite departing from conservative orthodoxy with some regularity, Crist has been able to stay popular with Republicans so far.

So, clearly, Crist would be a favorite to beat Rubio. The odds against him, though, probably won't be quite overwhelming enough to scare Rubio out of an underdog campaign.
Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. You can enter an anonymous Display Name or connect to a social profile.

More from Politics