Monday, November 09, 2009

Meet Marco Rubio, the new Doug Hoffman, right-wing poster boy

The Club for Growth, the anti-tax, anti-government (except when it wants government to crack down in good Singaporese style to protect the wealthy) group that prominently backed Doug Hoffman in NY-23 has thrown its weight behind Marco Rubio in the 2010 Florida Senate race. Apparently, Gov. Charlie Crist just isn't right-wing enough:

"Marco Rubio is the real deal, one of the brightest young stars in American politics today, and a proven champion of economic liberty," said Club President Chris Chocola. "He is a dynamic spokesman for the principles of limited government and economic freedom, and he will make a fantastic Senator."

Rubio served in the Florida House of Representatives from 2000-2008, and was elected to the Republican leadership as Majority Whip, Majority Leader, and finally, Speaker of the House. Rubio is an advocate of lower federal spending, tax relief and tax reform, union members' right to a secret ballot, and market-driven energy and environmental solutions.

Rubio's Republican primary opponent is Florida Governor Charlie Crist, who supported President Obama's $787 billion stimulus, proposed a state "cap-and-trade" energy program, and this summer broke his pledge not to sign any state tax increases.

"Charlie Crist has repeatedly joined with big government liberals on major economic issues facing America today, from taxes to spending to cap-and-trade," Chocola said. "He represents the wrong direction for our economy and our nation."

Let the Republican civil war begin... well, okay, it's well underway, but here's a new battleground.

As Chris Cillizza notes, what the endorsement means for Rubio is a lot of money and a lot of advertising. Of course, what it also means is that Rubio's conservative credentials just got a huge legitimacy boost. It is likely that Rubio will now be the preferred choice of the base and of whose who lead it. The question is whether the Republican establishment, which was slow to embrace Hoffman, will turn to Rubio as the conservative choice, or whether it will side with the established governor. Crist is not Scozzafava, after all, and will not so easily be shunted to the side.

For more on this, see our very own Mustang Bobby, a Floridian, over at his place:

While that might seem like a good thing for Mr. Rubio and a challenge to Gov. Crist, the Club for Growth's track record in endorsing candidates to get them to the general election is usually a kiss of death. They have, as Jonathan Singer points out, a good record for electing Democrats by backing unelectable Republicans: Bill Sali of Idaho, Tim Walberg of Michigan, Andy Harris of Maryland, Steve Pearce of New Mexico, and Conservative Doug Hoffman in last week's NY 23rd district's special election.

I'm not sure if the Club's endorsement is the kiss of death, but there is no denying, I think, that the right-wing takeover of the Republican Party means candidacies that are, like Hoffman's, simply too extreme for the vast majority of voters.

So, yes, if Republicans want to embrace the Club's candidates, and insurgent candidates of the right generally, I'm all for it. Crist, at least, has proven electability. In reducing itself to an increasingly narrow sliver on the far right, the Republican Party is only making itself even less relevant than ever.

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