Thursday, April 29, 2010

Charlie Crist to leave Republicans and run for US Senate as independent.

Republican governor Charlie Crist has announced that he will run for the Senate as an independent, as further proof that they Tea Party movement are dragging the Republican party so far to the right, that even it's former darlings like Crist, simply no longer pass their litmus test.

Crist's break with his party is further evidence of a sharp swing to the right among conservative activists threatening other prominent Republicans, such as the party's former presidential candidate, John McCain, who is fighting an uphill struggle to win re-election as a senator in Arizona.

For many months, Crist was the front-runner to win the Republican nomination for senator, but has fallen behind the former speaker in the state legislature, Marco Rubio, whose hard right positions won the backing of Tea Party organisations and prominent party figures, such as the former vice president, Dick Cheney.

Although Crist is conservative on many issues – supporting gun rights and capital punishment, while opposing abortion and gay marriage – he is seen as too liberal by some Republicans and Tea Party supporters because of his support for the Obama administration's $787bn economic recovery package and for urging his party to reach out to minorities.

Many Tea Party supporters see co-operation with the Democrats and an attempt at consensus politics as selling out the movement's dogma of ever smaller government.

Recent polls give Rubio, who for all his statements about getting the government out of peoples lives does back detention without trial and torture at Guantanamo Bay, twice the support of Crist.

Rubio describes himself as the "true conservative" in the Florida race and was recently characterised in the New York Times as the potentially "the first senator from the Tea Party".

It will be fascinating to see what happens here when the rest of the public get to vote on whether or not to accept Crist or Rubio. We all know that the Tea Party movement favours such a strict right wing doctrine, but what happens when this choice is put to the rest of the state?

I always thought that the Republican party would face a terrible choice after McCain lost to Obama, in many ways similar to the choices of the Labour party after Thatcher's election here in the UK.

The Labour party spent years arguing that they weren't left wing enough, as if that was the reason the public rejected them. So it is with the Tea party movement, who are insisting that McCain lost to Obama because he was too like the Democrats.
"There are people who believe the way to be more successful as Republicans is to be more like Democrats. And the people who believe we need to be more like Democrats will vote for Charlie Crist," Rubio told the paper.
Adopting the dogma of one's most radical supporters is rarely a way to win over independents, and I doubt that it's going to work for the Republicans. Sure, Rubio might beat Crist, but nationwide this policy is suicidal.

And yet that's the road which they have chosen.

Click here for full article.

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