GOP primaries

GOP primaries

Suthers backs Norton

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers (R), who was initially expected to challenge Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) this year, announced Tuesday that he will back former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton in the Republican primary.

Suthers surprised everyone by saying no to a Senate run in early 2009. Since then, Norton has emerged as the establishment favorite, but she faces a contested primary.

"Jane Norton is a person of principle and integrity, and I am certain she will be an exceptional representative for the citizens of this state in the U.S. Senate," Suthers said in a statement. "She has a proven track record of experience in tackling and solving big issues, and I believe she is the right person to stand up for Colorado’s law enforcement community in our nation’s capitol."

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Rubio's lead grows to 32 points over Crist

Marco Rubio's lead over Gov. Charlie Crist in the Florida Senate race has grown to more than 30 points, according to a new Public Policy Polling (D) survey.

PPP shows Rubio leading Crist 60-28, including 71-17 among conservatives. It is by far the worst public polling Crist has seen, and casts tremendous doubt on whether he can win the GOP primary.

Self-described "moderates" who are likely to vote in the primary go for Crist 49-36 — an indication of how much better off Crist might be as an independent candidate.

Crist's approval rating as governor stands at just 29 percent among GOP primary voters, who are much happier having state Attorney General Bill McCollum as their nominee. In fact, 56 percent of GOP primary voters say they would prefer Crist didn't run for either Senate or governor.

UPDATE: Crist spokeswoman Andrew Saul responds: "Ultimately, elections are about choices: this election will come down to the choice between an honest public servant with a strong conservative record in Charlie Crist and a Miami lobbyist-politician Marco Rubio, who has traded on his connections for everything from $135 haircuts to fat lobbying deals. Charlie Crist will win this race and win it decisively."

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LeMieux confident Crist can still pull off victory

Sen. George LeMieux (R-Fla.) predicted Tuesday that Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) would still win the state's Senate race, despite slumping poll numbers.

LeMieux, a Crist supporter who was appointed to fill the remainder of the term left by Sen. Mel Martinez (R), who retired, said he expected things to tighten in the GOP primary between Crist and former state House Speaker Marco Rubio (R).

"I think it'll be a close race," LeMieux said during an appearance on MSNBC. "In Florida, it's hard to underestimate Charlie Crist."

Polls have shown Crist, a centrist Republican, falling further and further behind Rubio, a conservative Senate candidate. 

LeMieux said the governor would still be able to pull out a victory, though.

"I think he will," LeMieux said when asked if Crist would still win. "At the end of the day, they like Charlie Crist; I think he'll do well."

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Crist's numbers plunge further

Things are going from bad to worse for Charlie Crist.

According to Tom Jensen over at Public Policy Polling (D):

We are going to have absolutely brutal numbers out on Charlie Crist tomorrow.

Here's a little preview: among Republican primary voters 19% would like to see him as Governor a year from now, 14% want him in the Senate, and 56% want him out of elected office.

If there is any path to his winning office in Florida again -- and there may not be -- it's as something other than a Republican.

There's lots and lots of time left, but it's hard to see how a GOP primary ends well for Crist. His campaign insists running as an independent is out of the question, but in the face of polling numbers like these, it would be professional malpractice not to at least consider it.

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Mahoney crowds primary to face Shea-Porter

Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta hasn't raised big money yet, and now he's got an expensive primary to thank for it.

Republican National Committeeman Sean Mahoney is set to launch his own campaign for the GOP nomination to face Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.), and he could pose a well-funded threat to the frontrunning Guinta.

A source close to Mahoney confirms he is "beginning the process of buttoning up informal commitments that grassroots activists, folks from the donor community and Republican officials have made to him recently."

Mahoney's entry shouldn't be surprising. In the current issue of the magazine he publishes, BusinessNH, included in the Publisher's Note is a full-throated endorsement of the Tea Party movement. Mahoney appears to be setting himself up as the Tea Party candidate in the race.

Mahoney faces a crowded field that includes Guinta and two other businessmen -- Rich Ashooh and Bob Bestani -- but he could separate himself from the pack with the ability to self-fund. No GOP challenger had banked even $175,000 by year's end.

Mahoney's likely entry was first reported by the New Hampshire Union Leader.

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Club hits Bennett with more ads

The Club for Growth is back on the air in its effort to take down Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah).

The latest ad hits Bennett for voting for the bailout and the Bridge to Nowhere. It also notes he "sided with big-government liberals" in his health care proposals.

The Club is not backing a particular candidate in the Republican field to face Bennett, but it is opposing Bennett's re-nomination. Attorney Mike Lee, former congressional candidate Tim Bridgewater and activist Cherilyn Eagar are currently challenging Bennett.

The ad closes by encouraging voters to caucus on March 23.

UPDATE: Club spokesman Mike Connolly wouldn't disclose the size of the ad buy but said: "We are buying everything in the state that Fox News will sell us."

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Would-be Bunning successors applaud his stand

The two Republicans seeking to succeed Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) are both applauding his controversial stand against an extension of jobless benefits and health insurance payments to the unemployed.

Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson and ophthamologist Rand Paul are both sticking by the state's junior senator, even as he receives bomb threats and Democrats decry him.

McClatchy reports that Grayson "said he would 'proudly stand up to ensure that programs are paid for.'" Paul, meanwhile, said "more senators need to stand up for the taxpayers and against the big-spending career politicians in both parties."

While it's nice to stand for fiscal responsibility in a GOP primary, there's a reason you don't see tons of Republican senators jumping to Bunning's aid right now. This is a tough position to take for the general election.

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Crist says he would not scrap entire health bill

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) said Friday night that he would not scrap every piece of the Democrats' healthcare reform bill but did not identify a part of it he likes.

Crist, who is in a tough Senate primary match-up with former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio (R), told the Palm Beach Post editorial board Friday night that he would get rid of parts of the bill but would not start from scratch as Republican leaders have said they would like to do.

He said:

There may be parts of it that you don’t have to scrap. There are three parts of it that I would like to see scrapped: It would raise taxes significantly, it would raise rates significantly and it would take half-a-trillion dollars out of Medicare.

 I think the real issue here, as it relates to health care, is that people want it to not cost so much and people want to have access to it. I think there is a consensus of agreement that the health care that is delivered in America is good. But it’s not easy to get it and it’s too expensive when you do get it.

Republicans have called on Democrats to start from scratch since they finalized their healthcare proposals late last year. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) echoed that call in the weekly GOP address Saturday and Republican leaders spent much of the White House healthcare summit on Thursday calling on Democrats to start over.

But when he was asked if there were any parts of the bill he liked, Crist said:

I don’t think a whole lot. Watching the discussion yesterday [Thursday] you get a chance to sort of see more of it be ferreted out. You know, I’m the kind of guy … I’m pragmatic. The stimulus is a great example. We needed the money. Every other Republican governor took it, too. I was just maybe a little more honest and straight forward about it. Well, shame on me for being honest. But, you know, as it relates to health care, if there are good ideas, I’m willing to look at them. And I would take that same approach to any issue in Washington.

Asked again if there were any parts he liked he said:

Not at present. No.

Rubio, who is challenging Crist from the right, pounced on Crist's comments. 

“Once again, Charlie Crist has shown why Floridians can't trust him to go to Washington and stand up to the misguided agenda of President Obama and Congressional Democrats," he said in a statement.

To Crist's credit, he did criticize parts of the bill but he did not repudiate the entire bill as most Republicans have.

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Clinton joins Bush, Obama as wedge issue

It's becoming a steady drumbeat in the Kentucky Senate race: Trey Grayson attacks, and Rand Paul responds by tying him to President Obama. Now, though, it appears Bill Clinton is fair game too.

In what is shaping up to be one of the nastiest primaries in the country, Paul hit back with an ad for the second time this week.

More interesting about the latest Paul ad is that it points out Grayson voted for "draft-dodger Bill Clinton."

Grayson, a former Democrat, quipped at a GOP function last year that, “Some people in college tried pot; I tried Clinton.”

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