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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

GOP Quaffs the Kool-Aid in FL

All good Dems have gotta love this CNN headline, especially considering the author of the article: “Republicans heading for a spectacular bloodbath in Florida.” If you had to pick just one state for Republican wingnuts to drink the political Kool-aid en masse, it would be the Sunshine State, and according to the author, former Bush speechwriter David Frum, they are obliging with gusto:

The Republican fratricide in the November 3 special election in upstate New York may prove just an opening round of an even more spectacular bloodbath in Florida in 2010…In New York, Republican feuding lost the party a seat in the House of Representatives. At stake in Florida is not only a senatorship — but very possibly Republican hopes for 2012 as well.

Almost too good to be true, from a Democratic point of view. Frum speaks of the Senate race between moderate Republican Gov. Charlie Crist and former Speaker of the Florida House Marco Rubio, who is the darling du jour of GOP wingnuts.
Even Republicans are embracing the political suicide metaphors in describing the FL Senate race. As Kate Zernike reports in the Sunday New York Times,

“Florida is a hill to die on for conservatives,” said Erick Erickson, editor of the conservative blog RedState.com, which leads a daily drumbeat against Mr. Crist. “This is the clearest example we have of these two competing concepts.”

Wingnuts are still livid, it seems, because Crist, a moderate on several issues, like cap and trade to check global warming and restoring voting rights to ex-felons, not only endorsed the Obama stimulus, but campaigned for it as well. Even conservative luminaries, like George Will who should know better have climbed on the Rubio bandwagon. Frum points out that every GOP Governor eventually accepted stimulus aide, despite the grumbling. The funds were urgently-needed in FL, as Frum explains:

The final Obama plan granted Florida more than $15 billion over three years. That money averted radical cuts to schools and Medicaid. It saved the state from furloughing employees and raising taxes even higher. It has paid for emergency employment on roads and water projects. It has extended unemployment benefits for 700,000 Floridians and put an extra $25 per week in their relief packets.

While most sane Floridians are grateful for the much-needed aid, Rubio has instead attacked Crist for accepting the funds as a “terrible threat to a fragile economy.” As a result, Frum notes, Rubio “trails Crist badly in all demographic categories. Rubio even trails Crist by 10 points among Hispanics, despite his Cuban ancestry and fluent Spanish.”
Frum is very worried about his party, and asks a good question, “Are vague bromides about big government anything like an adequate response to the worst economic crisis experienced by any American under age 80?…If all we conservatives have to offer is oppositionism, then opposition is the job we’ll be assigned to fill.”
If Frum is correct about the fallout of the Crist-Rubio fight, Florida Dems may soon be drinking a toast of their own — no, not Kool-aid, but champagne.

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