GOP primaries

GOP primaries

Rubio's father falls ill

Florida U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio (R) on Tuesday announced he is rescheduling a pending campaign trip because his father has been diagnosed with another bout of lung cancer.

Rubio, who is running against Gov. Charlie Crist for the GOP nomination for the seat formerly held by retired Sen. Mel Martinez (R), issued this statement: "Unfortunately, my father, Mario Rubio, has been diagnosed with a recurrence of lung cancer. This will require me to return to South Florida. We are in the process of rescheduling some of the coming days’ events and look forward to continuing our conversation with voters in these communities in the near future."

Rubio's revised schedule includes three stops next Tuesday in The Villages, followed by stops in Belleview and St. Augustine on Wednesday. Subsequent stops are being rescheduled.

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Crist fundraising falls off

As Marco Rubio's fundraising takes off, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has seen his numbers fall precipitously.

Crist's campaign just released its figures for the first three months of 2010. He raised $1.1 million (compared to Rubio's gigantic $3.6 million, which he announced earlier this week) and wasn't able to bank any of it, with his cash on hand remaining at about $7.5 million.

The numbers reveal just how the game has changed in the Senate primary. Crist raised $4.3 million in his initial quarter of fundraising and has seen his numbers drop off steadily since then, to $2.4 million and then $2 million in the last two quarters. Rubio, meanwhile, has seen his fundraising skyrocket as he has overtaken Crist in the polls. Rubio's total have gone up from under $350,000 in his first two quarters to the huge sum he announced earlier this week.

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Giuliani to campaign for Rubio

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) will campaign for Florida Senate candidate Marco Rubio (R) on Monday.

Rubio's campaign made the announcement Friday afternoon. Giuliani was an early front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination in 2007 and 2008 but his campaign fizzled early in the primary race.

Giuliani, who was mayor during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, can give Republican candidates a good deal of national security cache. 

Rubio has staged a challenge to Gov. Charlie Crist (R), who was presumed to be the frontrunner in the Senate primary months ago. But Rubio has opened big leads over Crist in several polls and has drawn support from Tea Party activists.

The New Yorker tried hard to win Florida during the GOP primary but failed. He courted Crist for an endorsement, but the governor eventually backed Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

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Former NFL coach Shula backs Crist in Florida GOP Senate primary

Republican Gov. Charlie Crist is breaking out the big guns in his Senate primary with former state House speaker Marco Rubio.

On Wednesday, Crists's campaign announced the backing of former Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula.

“Florida voters can trust Charlie Crist to fight for their interests in the U.S. Senate,” Shula said. “Gov. Crist’s conservative policies have kept our taxes low and allowed our businesses to thrive, and he has the character it takes to work first and foremost for his fellow Floridians. Washington needs a leader like Charlie Crist to stand up for Florida in our nation’s capital.”

Shula is the winningest coach in NFL history and won a pair of Super Bowls in 1972 and 1973. In other words, he's a pretty big deal in the state.

Former Chicago Bears Coach Mike Ditka failed to tip the primary scales in Illinois earlier this year. Can Shula do any better?

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Rep. Griffin avoids primary challenge from '08 opponent

Wayne Parker, the 2008 Republican nominee against then-Democratic Rep. Parker Griffith (Ala.), announced Wednesday that he won't challenge the party-switching congressman in a primary this year.

In making his announcement, Parker did throw his support to another GOP candidate, Madison County Commissioner Mo Brooks. But the party avoided what might have been Griffith's most feared Republican primary opponent in Parker.

Parker has run for the seat three times, including twice against former Rep. Bud Cramer (D-Ala.).

He lost to Griffith 51-48 in 2008. Griffith, who has since become a Republican, is still facing some resistance from the GOP establishment in the district, even as national party leaders have embraced him.

Businessman Les Phillip is also running in the GOP primary.

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Martinez endoses Rep. Grayson opponent

Former Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) is supporting business Bruce O'Donoghue in the GOP race to face Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.).

Martinez penned a fundraising appeal for O'Donoghue, which went out Monday morning.

It turns out the recently retired senator coached O'Donoghue on a YMCA basketball team, and the two have seen their paths cross elsewhere since then. Martinez said Republicans must nominate O'Donoghue.

"I don't normally write to ask for your support, but this race is important," Martinez said. "Bruce is the only man to beat Alan Grayson and stop the nonsense coming from Washington these days."

O'Donoghue faces a primary with state Rep. Kurt Kelly and 2008 primary runner-up Todd Long. He also has the backing of former Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings.

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Hayworth: Palin supporting McCain as a favor

Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) primary opponent said Friday that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) is backing her former running mate as a political favor.

Former Rep. J.D. Hayworth, who is challenging McCain from the right, said that he has "profound policy differences" with the 2008 GOP presidential nominee.

But he added that Palin, who is a favorite of the conservative base and Tea Party movement from which he draws support, is endorsing McCain as a token of gratitude for making her the vice presidential nominee.

{mosads}"We all understand the genuine human impulse of gratitude. And obviously John McCain gave Sarah Palin her entree to the national stage politically," he said on MSNBC. "But with all due respect, it's not going to be Sarah Palin from Alaska...Arizonans are going to determine who serves in the United States Senate."

Palin was a relatively unknown governor before McCain chose her as a running mate in 2008. She is speaking at a rally for McCain's campaign Friday afternoon.

The former governor's endorsement of McCain was not a foregone conclusion; McCain's and Palin's staffs reportedly sparred on the campaign trail, suggesting that the two running mates did not always get along.

But both the senator and the ex-governor have said there was not a rift between them during the campaign.

Hayworth is challenging McCain, attacking his image as a "maverick" within the GOP ranks. McCain has said he has been consistently conservative throughout his time in the Senate.

The ex-congressman expressed confidence he would win the primary and said he expects Palin to endorse him in the general election.

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