Brown-Waite endorses Rubio in Senate race


Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-Fla.) joined Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) in backing Rubio (R), the former Speaker of the Florida House who is running a long-shot bid to replace Sen. George LeMieux (R).

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LeMieux was appointed earlier this month to fill out former Sen. Mel Martinez's (R) unexpired term. In the Republican primary, Rubio will face Gov. Charlie Crist (R), the popular first-term governor who leads by big margins in most polls.

But Rubio is running hard to Crist's right, keeping the heat on the governor for backing President Barack Obama's economic stimulus plan, among other issues on which the two disagree.

So far, Rubio has attracted national attention in his quest. In addition to the two Florida House members, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R)  well-respected figures in social-conservative circles  have backed his bid.

Rubio was featured on the cover of the National Review, the prominent conservative weekly, and bloggers from across the country have weighed in on his behalf against Crist. In Florida, Rubio has won all eight of the straw polls held so far, an indication that the most active, hardcore members of the party are unsatisfied with Crist.

Though the straw polls mean little in terms of electoral power, they draw headlines that the Crist campaign does not want to see. Another straw poll is scheduled for Thursday night in Hernando County, which falls within the borders of Brown-Waite's district.

Rubio faces an uphill battle against Crist, who in the first quarter of his candidacy pulled in $4.4 million and ended June with just under $4.2 million in the bank.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has endorsed Crist.

Rubio has had some fundraising success, pulling in $600,000. He has $349,000 in the bank.