My Apologies, Sen. Cornyn. The NRSC-Crist Endorsement Was Brilliant!

Several months ago, I made my first political contribution to the NRSC.  I promised the telemarketer who called that I would contribute $X  for every GOP senator who voted against the TARP bill.

Last month, the same telemarketer called again for more money.  I basically told them to take a hike because I was furious that Sen. John Cornyn and the NRSC had endorsed Florida Governor Crist for U.S. Senate on the day Crist made public his intentions to run for the seat.

In addition, I had several Facebook exchanges with Sen. Cornyn regarding my distaste for cutting Marco Rubio’s knees out from under him so early in the process.  After all, the GOP senate primary in Florida was a year away at the time.  (I learned from an acquaintance on Cornyn’s staff that he really does personally post and respond on Facebook…it’s not a staffer.)

Cornyn’s reasoning for the Crist endorsement went something like this:  we have limited financial resources at the NRSC, so we need to focus our resources on other states where competition will be stiffer but where we may have a shot at saving or picking up a critical senate seat for the GOP.  Crist’s name recognition and approval in Florida would likely give him general election success with little difficulty, or so Cornyn surmised.  I was not persuaded by his rhetoric as I thought it was shortsighted, given the GOP’s long term needs to build conservative support among Hispanics.

Lately I’ve been pondering the irony of the Crist-endorsement having the exact opposite effect of its original intent.  It has stirred the competitive juices of the GOP base, which will now require the NRSC to allocate funds to Crist to win the primary — exactly what Sen. Cornyn and the NRSC wanted to avoid by endorsing Crist in the first place.

But this evening, the “lightbulb” came on and now I understand what’s going on.  Please accept my apologies, Sen. Cornyn.  You are one step ahead of me (and likely many other angry GOP conservatives). 

Here’s what I believe is going to happen:

By endorsing Crist to focus limited financial resources on other races, the NRSC is now on record that they will not provide significant funds to Crist in the GOP primary.  In the meantime, Rubio’s fundraising is picking up steam and he will ultimately have a war chest that will allow him to effectively compete in the primary.  The NRSC is basically saying, “Charlie, you gotta win this one on your own, ol’ buddy.  You can do it.  We need our money in other places.”

It will be very interesting to see what the NRSC does when the primary race tightens in the polls and in campaign contributions.  My bet is that the NRSC will re-iterate its “endorsement” but never direct funds to help Crist win the primary.

By endorsing Crist so early on, the NRSC may have just assured Rubio’s primary victory.