Friday, March 11, 2011

The NRSC: Boldly Pretending 2010 Did Not Happen

Apparently the NRSC didn't learn jack from the 2010 elections:

The Hill | Republican courts TV's Morning Joe for Florida Senate challenge
Republicans in Washington are trying to recruit Joe Scarborough to run against Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) next year.

Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), who heads the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), told The Hill on Thursday that he has talked to Scarborough a couple times about a Senate bid. And he indicated he’s still working on persuading the MSNBC host to run for the upper chamber...
Believe it or not, this guy was once elected to Congress as a Republican.
 Are you kidding me?

Joe Scarborough? Seriously? Seriously?!

YouTube | Grey's Anatomy | Seriously?

I didn't think it was asking too much to expect the NRSC to at least remember what happened in the most recent election, but apparently I was mistaken. Let's take a moment and look back at the 2010 election...

In 2009, the endorsements from the NRSC leadership and other "establishment" Republican types for Charlie Crist within days (in some cases mere hours) of his official announcement of his candidacy angered many grassroots Republicans here in Florida. Our Oompa Loompa Governor had made Olympic sports out of flip-flopping and backstabbing, and most of us had pretty much given up all hope that he retained any true conservative principles whatsoever.

A lot has been written about Marco Rubio's victorious campaign, but what I want to focus on today is that Rubio was a viable, credible candidate from the moment he entered the Senate race. Rubio had served the full amount of time allowed by term limits in the Florida House, including serving as Speaker of the House during his last term of office. He had a reliably conservative voting record and sufficient experience to make him clearly qualified to be a Senator.

In other words, the NRSC did not need to immediately intervene in last year's Florida Senate race. There were two Republican candidates who had served in leadership positions in state government. Standing aside and letting Florida Republicans pick their nominee between the two should not have been a problem.

It's ironic how quickly and catastrophically the Crist campaign fell apart, as he didn't just abandon the Republican Party, but pretty much every single conservative principle he'd ever claimed, along the way. But what's even more ironic is how quickly and enthusiastically the NRSC has embraced Marco Rubio and attempted to claim him as their own. Here's a screenshot of the current NRSC homepage (click image to enlarge):

Please forget we supported Charlie! Look, we have a huge Marco picture!
Let's take a moment to compare how the NRCC handled 2010 in Florida. It would be completely disingenuous to claim that the NRCC does not play favorites or interfere in primaries, but their meddling was no where near the NRSC.

Specifically regarding Districts 8 and 24, which were held by Alan Grayson and Suzanne Kosmas, the Republican primaries for those seats were very heavily contested. Despite the intense level of these races, the NRCC honored the right of Florida Republicans to select their candidate and took steps to promote unity in the party.

I helped the NRCC organize an event in May 2010 for all  District 8 and 24 Republican candidates, and NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions pledged directly to the candidates that the NRCC would support was chosen as our nominees. I personally heard Sessions publicly announce this pledge to the crowd as well; he encouraged them to investigate the candidates and pick one to support in the primary, but then unite behind whoever was the eventual winner so we could defeat Grayson and Kosmas in the general election. Sessions also was able to get the candidates to agree to unite for the good of the party and support whoever the voters chose as the Republican nominee.

And that's precisely what happened. The Central Florida Republicans rallied behind Daniel Webster and Sandy Adams, and they both won by huge, double-digit margins. Contrast that with the Senate race, where Crist's Republican support disintegrated, he betrayed the party and the Republican donors who supported him in good faith.

Now, back to Florida today, there's a laundry list of viable (at least on paper) Republicans who have expressed interest in challenging Bill Nelson in 2012. Now, we can argue about who is more conservative on which issues, but I see at least a few acceptably conservative candidates who I would be fine supporting.

What I have not heard is anyone crying out for Joe Scarborough to come save us and run for Senate. I've traveled from one end of the state to the other in the past few months, I've talked with literally hundreds of conservatives, and seriously, I haven't heard one single person bring up Scarborough as someone they hope will run.

So, hey, Senator Cornyn! Don't worry about Florida. We've got this handled. If we need you, we'll call, ok?

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