In August of 2010, the senate GOP primary will be decided between Charlie Crist current Governor of Florida and Marco Rubio former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.
The interesting dynamic about the primary is the ideological split between Republicans. Rubio represents the GOP puritans, who are led by the Tea Party activists, backed by the Becks, Limbaughs, and Palins of the Republican spectrum. They believe compromise and bi-partisanship is a sign of weakness. They pray to the alter of Reagan, while spitting in the face of his "Big Tent" principle. If you do not conform to strict Conservative principle then we don't have room for you. Crist is the polished politician, who has enjoyed 60 and 70 percent job approval rates in Florida. He is a pragmatist, he believes in compromise and consensus to make change. An apparent old school Republican philosophy in the eyes of tea baggers although very Reagan like. Crist is a politician in the mold of Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who incidentally have been hung in effigy at recent tea party's.
It is obvious but not surprising that the Republican Party is experiencing a sort of blood letting. The previous President led a 8 year reign which at best can be described as controversial. the last decade was virtually lost, in terms of growth, personal wealth, and real wages. a virtual zero. This encompassed with the last two election cycles, has to have the Republicans asking the question what went wrong? But instead of embracing successful GOP leadership examples such as Crist, and building off of that, the party has turned to a virtual angry mob, along with television, and radio hosts to help lead an overhaul of the party, and it might work.
The Battle Lines
Rubio supporters on Crist:
Led by Tea Party anger and given legs by the likes of Limbaugh, and Huckabee. Rubio is like a symphony conductor at his campaign rallies, often playing to the anti-government crowd, indicting Crist with his support for the Stimulus, while stoking the obvious anti-Obama strain that runs through everything Tea Party. What is obvious about Rubios strategy is that he doesn't have to talk about policy often, he is all about philosophy which is the "red meat" for the hate anything government crowd.
Crist supporters on Rubio:
Led by a more traditional Republican values and money for that matter, you will not see a parking lot riddled with Ford F150's and "Don't Tread On Me" bumper stickers. Crists supporters view Rubio as the leader of the in your face fundamentalist faction of the GOP, led by loud mouths like Limbaugh and Beck. Republicans that listen to the opinion makers, but understand they usually speak in half-truths.
If you have any interest in politics the senate primary race in Florida will be a case study on the viability of this Tea Bagger Movement, a movement that Crist is taking very seriously. A movement that has already coughed up a house seat in New York, to the Democratic Party in NY District 23, because of its poor management and candidate. That seat had been held by the GOP for over 40 years. Make no mistake, Rubio is not Doug Hoffman, he is an impressive young up and coming politician and a formidable opponent. The problem is, if he wins, a large part of his constituency hates everything government, and he will now be part of that establishment that draws so much ire. Crist is hoping his organization is simply more organized and seasoned then Rubios, while he prays that the voters understand he voted for the stimulus because it saved 20,000 teaching jobs in Florida.
Only time will tell.