When the Republican Senate Campaign Committee endorsed Charlie Crist in the Florida Senate race supporters of the young and telegenic Marco Rubio were more than a little annoyed. Many conservatives aren’t enamored of Crist’s moderate politics and embrace of Obama’s stimulus plan. But sometimes Beltway endorsements don’t help the recipient, as the local Florida press observes:
A Republican backlash is brewing against the state and national party as they anoint Gov. Charlie Crist’s U.S. Senate campaign — thereby dissing that of his rival, former state House Speaker Marco Rubio.From South Florida to Tampa Bay, a few county Republican parties are discussing or passing resolutions telling the state party to butt out of the Senate race or any other primary.
We have passed the point at which Beltway politicians of either party are granted deference on matters of candidate selection by the base. Harry Reid and even the president aren’t going to convince Pennsylvania Democrats to accept Arlen Specter; Specter will have to do that on his own. And Republican insiders desirous of an easier and and less expensive race aren’t going to persuade Florida Republicans that Crist is a foregone conclusion.
In fact, the entire 2008 presidential race was a display of the utter inability of self-appointed party guardians to determine the outcome of contentious electoral battles. If party insiders really had the last say, Hillary Clinton would have wrapped up the nomination in January and John McCain’s candidacy would have evaporated in the 2007 immigration reform fight.
We’ll see next year whether Crist and Specter go the way of Hillary Clinton. But anyone who thinks the stamp of approval from Washington politicians is a net plus probably never imagined we would have an Obama vs. McCain face off.