Are conservatives nuts? I keep hearing wild enthusiasm about Marco Rubio’s challenge to Charlie Crist. But why make the perfect the enemy of the good? This is not merely about the next election. That seat will be up for reelection in 2016. By that time Fidel will be 90 and almost certainly dead. Raul is just a few years younger, and his chances to make it are not all that great either. In any case, thousands of Florida voters who fled from Cuban Communism in the early 1960’s will die and be replaced on the voter rolls with young third generation Cuban-Americans who will be much more likely to vote their economic interests than their emotions about the Castro brothers. So unless the nationwide popularity of the GOP increases dramatically over the next 7 years, only a wildly popular Republican senator will have any chance of getting reelected. This basically means that Gov. Crist may well be the only Republican capable of holding the Florida senate seat for more than one term.
But there’s also a wider issue of the 2010 election. The Democrats are right now favored to pick up GOP seats in NH, OH, KY, NC, LA and MO. Republican seats in GA, KS, SD, AZ and AK are also endangered to some degree. NRSC has its hands full trying to prevent a massacre worse than either 2006 or 2008, and it does not really need to add Florida to the list of states to worry about. Furthermore, a Senate campaign in Florida probably costs more than in any two of the above-mentioned states combined. Charlie Crist can take care of himself, but it is far from obvious that Rubio is capable of raising enough funds. The nightmare Republican scenario may be that Rubio stays tantalizingly close in the polls, NRSC and RNC keep throwing money at his campaign, he loses anyway, and a couple of badly underfunded (and quite conservative!) Republican candidates lose very narrowly in other states. Are conservatives willing to take such a risk for the sake of ideological purity?