Sunday, June 23, 2024

Marco Rubio’s challenge to Charlie Crist in the Senate Primaries is Rattling the Florida Republican Party

The hotly contested Republican primary for Florida’s senatorial race is rattling the party and dividing the loyalties of its apparatchiks as well as its constituents.  What was once a presumed nomination for Governor Charlie Crist has become a tight and controversial race between the governor and the former Speaker of the Florida State House, Marco Rubio.  The two men are vying to fill the seat vacated by Mel Martinez, a Cuban-American Republican who resigned last summer.

Fallout from what promises to be a divisive campaign has already begun with the January 2nd resignation of Florida Republican Party chairman Jim Greer, who had been criticized by conservatives for his strong support of Governor Crist.  His resignation is seen as a sign of Marco Rubio’s growing support among Florida Republicans.

Rubio’s growing support vis-à-vis Crist is regarded as a criticism of the Governor’s moderate stances by the more right-wing contingents of the party.  Particularly, this criticism is portrayed as a repudiation of his support for President Obama’s economic stimulus plans.

Marco Rubio, on the other hand, has attracted the support of conservatives because of his stances on key issues such as abortion, taxes, and gun control.  Among his most important endorsements are those from South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint and the pro-business Club for Growth.  Crist’s one-time impressive lead over Rubio has dwindled to a virtual tie according to a recent poll by

While there are hopes within the Republican Party that Marco Rubio will help attract support from the growing Latino population in the United States, it is not yet certain that he will be able to secure the support of most Latinos in Florida.  According to the Pew Hispanic Center, Cuban-Americans, who traditionally vote conservative, account for a significantly smaller segment of Hispanic voters in Florida than they did 20 years ago.  Conversely, Puerto Ricans and other Hispanic groups have increased their relative voter numbers in the state.

Rubio also faces a difficult race against Crist due to the latter’s prolific fund-raising abilities.  The most recent financial reports show that Crist has over $6 million in his campaign coffers, while Rubio has raised less than $1 million.

The winner of the republican primary in late August will face the Democratic nominee Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-FL), an African-American congressman from South Florida.

Latino Spices US Senate in Florida