Will Steele's stimulus threat affect Crist?

You'll recall that Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Michael Steele threatened on two occasions to withhold financial support from Republicans who supported the stimulus package.

Well, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) not only supported the stimulus; he actually appeared alongside President Obama in Fort Myers, Fla., when the package was being launched.

So, with the party establishment behind Crist in Florida's Senate race, how will Steele treat Crist? Does he hold fast to his crusade against stimulus apostasy, or back a man who was even more gung-ho about the stimulus than Sen. Arlen Specter--the original target of Steele's threat?

The wedding of Steele and Crist could prove interesting, given how adamant Steele was about Republicans falling in line on the biggest issue (so far) of the 111th Congress. But it's doubtful that Steele would ever officially decline to support Crist.

First, while Specter was Public Enemy No. 1 in the GOP even before he switched parties to become a Democrat, Crist still enjoys plenty of popularity among Republicans.

And second, Steele said on both occasions that any such decisions to withhold support would be led by the state parties. Florida GOP Chairman Jim Greer is definitely on board with Crist, so the resistance would likely have to feed off former state House Speaker Marco Rubio's primary opposition.

-Aaron Blake

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