by John Hawkins | May 22, 2009 6:59 am
John Cornyn and the NRSC have never had the slightest problem asking conservatives to give them money — but, that’s as far as it goes. They don’t want to hear from you. You see, in their view, your job is to hand them your money and then shut your mouth and do as you’re told.
Let me explain.
In Florida, despite the fact that Marco Rubio, a young, conservative, viable Hispanic candidate was already in the race, the NRSC chose to endorse Charlie Crist. Just to give you an idea of what Charlie Crist is like, here’s a quote from a Club for Growth press release that was issued yesterday,
In light of his support this week for tax increases and massive federal spending, the Club for Growth would like to ask Governor Crist whether he would pledge that if elected to the Senate he would remain a Republican, and not follow fellow liberal Arlen Specter’s switch to the Democratic Party if he felt his political survival depended on it.
Quite naturally, given the situation, conservatives were very unhappy with the NRSC’s decision. It just doesn’t seem proper that an organization that is supposed to represent the entire Republican Party is once again working to defeat a Republican candidate, instead of the Democrats.
Of course, these are issues that conservatives who feel betrayed would like to take up with the NRSC. However, John Cornyn has been going to comical extremes to duck questions about this issue.
On Wednesday, Cornyn had a teleconference with bloggers and his staffers actually sent me an email saying that “no political questions” could be asked. Imagine that. A politician, who’s holding a teleconference, but doesn’t want to answer any “political questions.”
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Cornyn is now even scrambling away from questions about this issue on Facebook.
Erick Erickson from Redstate politely asked Cornyn about this issue on Facebook and…well, I’ll just let Erick explain what happened,
Yesterday, I ambled over to John Cornyn’s page on Facebook and wrote on his wall.
I told him, very politely, that I was disappointed in the NRSC endorsement of Crist. At a time when Senator Cornyn says we can capitalize on the anxiety people have about spending and deficits, it undermines his goal by endorsing a man who supports the spending and deficits and also says he’d vote for Obama’s stimulus.
Senator Cornyn responded that given a recent third party poll showing Crist at 54% and Rubio at 18%, Crist is the candidate who can hold the seat and the NRSC wanted to go on and support him.
I responded that there were more than 365 days before the election, Crist was elected statewide with high name identification, and Rubio has 365 + days to show people that Crist would support the policies that are increasingly unpopular in Florida.
I tell you this all here because you cannot now go to John Cornyn’s page at Facebook to see the exchange.
Whoever runs the page for him has deleted it.
This is the message Cornyn now has on his Facebook page:
Here’s a thought: if you don’t even have the guts to defend your decision to a bunch of conservative bloggers or the people posting on your Facebook page, maybe you should rethink it.
Jim Greer certainly did,
Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer, facing intense and growing backlash over meddling in the U.S. Senate primary, is backing off.
In a letter to party supporters tonight, Greer defends his actions but said the party is now “neutral” in the contest between Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio.
“Now it is true that my conversation with my National Committee colleagues, although considered to be confidential at the time, was immediately disclosed to the press for motives I do not understand, let me conclude relating to this issue that the rule letter 11 matter is over, the National Committeewoman did as reported, refuse to sign and I do not intend to pursue the matter any further. As it relates to the Senatorial primary, the State party is neutral, no resources have been provided to one candidate over another and although I will personally support Governor Crist, I have great respect for former Speaker Rubio and his long service to our Party.”
Now, Jim Greer tried to pull a sleazy maneuver to knock Marco Rubio out of the race and happily, it failed. At that point, he could have doubled down, stuck with his guns and tried to keep up the fight. But, he realized it would be counterproductive to go down that path. Although I don’t agree with what Jim Greer tried to do, he does deserve some credit for eventually doing the right thing.
If John Cornyn is smart, he’ll follow Greer’s lead and withdraw the NRSC’s endorsement. However, if John Cornyn turns out to be “Beltway dumb,” let me tell you what he’ll do. He’ll make the mistaken assumption that he can just stonewall this issue and then he’ll figure it will die down over the holiday week-end. At that point, he’ll believe the whole issue will be down the memory hole and that will be that.
That line of thinking could be disastrous — and not just because we have no plans at all to let this go.
If the NRSC continues to go down this path, this fight will inevitably get nastier as both sides take shots at each other. This could very easily turn into an ugly, fratricidal war of the sort that we saw between the Party and Conservatives in Rhode Island, back in 2006, when things got so out of hand between the supporters of Steve Laffey and Lincoln Chafee. The involvement of the GOP in that fight was what turned that race from what would have merely been a hard fought primary into a complete bloodbath.
Today, conservatives are not in the mood to be sold out yet again by the Republican Party. So, if the Party absolutely insists on throwing down the gauntlet to the Right by backing Charlie Crist, I strongly suspect that conservatives are going to pick that gauntlet up and fight tooth-and-nail until the gory end.
As long as the NRSC is taking sides in the race, it’s not just Charlie Crist vs. Marco Rubio, it’s a proxy fight for control of the Republican Party. It’s conservatives vs. moderates, out-of-touch establishment politicians vs. the base, and the Beltway insiders vs. the Republicans in “flyover country.”
That sort of squabbling ultimately doesn’t help anybody except the Democrats, so I hope the NRSC will reconsider their decision to pick a fight with the people who should be some of their biggest supporters. The NRSC is supposed to represent everybody in the Republican Party and it’s time for them to start acting like it.
PS: Point me to any primary where the NRSC has ever endorsed a conservative candidate over a moderate. It just doesn’t happen — nor should it. The NRSC shouldn’t be taking anybody’s side in a primary, conservative or moderate.
PS #2: Here’s an article on this protest at CQ Politics. It’s called, “Conservatives Bash Cornyn, Threaten to Withhold Donations to GOP.”
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