by Javier ManjarresEarly on in the 2010 U.S. Senatorial race in Florida, then candidate Marco Rubio was down 35% in the polls to popular Governor Charlie Crist. Rubio’s fledgling campaign was struggling to stay viable, and there were several supporters within his organization who were actively trying to persuade Rubio to run for Attorney General or other statewide office. It was at that critical time when conservative kingmaker Senator Jim DeMint stepped up for Senator Rubio and endorsed him over the objections of his Senate colleagues who had already endorsed Crist.
DeMint joined many other conservative activists and supporters like Erick Erickson from Redstate, Mark Levin, FreedomWorks, Mike Huckabee, Ed Morrissey from Hot Air, Babalu and the Shark Tank in supporting Rubio’s candidacy in the face of the establishment’s opposition and the conventional wisdom- the rest is political history.
The current U.S. Senate race has parallels to the 2010 Senate race. The latest polls have Rubio’s hand picked House Majority Leader Adam Hasner leading former Senator George LeMieux. In addition, Hasner has been endorsed by several of the aforementioned conservatives who have all come out in support of Hasner’s candidacy.
There is a strain of thinking amongst some activists who believe that “Marco ruined it for everyone”- in other words, they believe that Rubio cut a path that will be difficult for any future Republican candidate replicate. And while it’s true that there is only one Marco Rubio with the political talents he’s been blessed with, it’s a bit of a stretch to discount other conservative candidates just because they don’t have the background or have the same superior communications skills that Rubio has.
There is no love lost between Rubio and Crist and his remaining stalwart supporters. During the 2010 U.S.Senate race, Crist and his pals unleashed a serious of vicious attacks that ultimately didn’t resonate with voters, forcing Charlie to cut and run from the Republican Party only to lose as an Independent/NPA candidate.The question now being asked by many activists- When will Rubio endorse a candidate in the Senate Primary? Will Rubio come out for Hasner? Because of Rubio’s longstanding relationship with Hasner- Rubio picked Hasner to coral the State House during his stint as Speaker- many feel that Rubio needs to get off the sidelines and support Hasner as DeMint did with him during his campaign. If he doesn’t, it’s likely that many will view Rubio as having become part and parcel of the ‘mainstream’ political establishment that hedges their bets in contested political races. Senator DeMint literally threw the Rubio campaign a life preserver and helped get him on board- will Senator Rubio now extend that same lifeline that was once offered to him?