A young conservative declares for Senate in Charlie Crist’s Florida.
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Rubio will certainly have an uphill battle in taking on Crist. If the election were held this week he would lose big. But the race isn’t this week. It’s 15 months from now. Plenty of time for both Rubio and Florida Democrats to knock some bloom off the Crist rose.
“There’s no reason for Crist’s popularity to stay high,” McManus said. “The Democrats will be painting a more partisan face on him.”
The 2010 Florida Senate race will be instructive in more ways than just deciding what Republican means in Florida. We’ll also see if those tens of thousands of new Democrats the Obama campaign managed to register really plan to make Florida a blue state or were just infatuated with Obama.
While Florida was going for Obama in 2008, Democrats picked up only one seat in Florida’s 160-seat legislature. And Floridians voted the conservative line on a plateful of constitutional amendments. But between 2004 and 2008, Florida Democrats picked up a net gain of more than 288,000 voters and lead Republicans in registration 4.7 million to 4.2 million. Party registration numbers in Florida are always tricky due to the left-over conservative Democrats who are registered with a D but haven’t voted for a Democrat since JFK. There are, of course, fewer and fewer of these as the years go by.
McManus said South Florida, three-term Congressman Kendrick Meek, now the likely front-runner on the Democratic side, “can be counted on to try to replicate the Obama model.” It’s far too soon to predict if change will still charm two years after our rookie president was sworn in, if Obama’s Florida organization can be brought back to life, or if Meek is as slick and glib as Obama.
Rubio is just shy of 38 years old. He can sometimes come across as a brash graduate student. If the Florida Republican bench were deeper he might still be refining his game in AA ball. But the Republican bench isn’t deep. So if Florida conservatives want a voice in the U.S. Senate any time soon, young Rubio has about a year to learn to hit big league pitching.
This one should be worth watching. And considering the current Republican/Democrat lineup in the U.S. Senate, the race will enjoy a national audience. Perhaps even serious national contributors. Stay tuned.