The Rubio-Crist race for Senate in Florida has captured national attention. Erick has mentioned Rubio time and again. The race is a classic battle of establishment vs. grassroots, status quo vs. the Right direction.
On Saturday Jim Galloway gave an excellent synopsis of the Ninth District Republican race for Congress. Galloway paints a clear picture of the CD-9 race by using Florida as an example.
Backed by tea partyists and GOP hard-cores, the 39-year-old Rubio is mopping the floor with the 53-year-old Crist, who started the race with the backing of the Republican establishment, in both Florida and Washington.
A single embrace by a stimulus-peddling President Barack Obama has crippled the well-tanned governor. The latest primary polls put Rubio 18 points ahead.
That kind of success is bound to encourage imitation. In Georgia, the resignations of U.S. Reps. John Linder and Nathan Deal, within the space of three days, have virtually guaranteed that the dynamics of the Rubio-Crist fight will dominate state GOP politics through the July primary.
Two candidates have dominated the fund-raising — state Rep. Tom Graves of Ranger and state Sen. Lee Hawkins of Gainesville. Graves, a 40-year-old developer and builder, has tied himself closely to the tea party movement. He uses the language of insurgency, referring to his supporters as “freedom fighters.”
“I think people are fed up. They’re saying enough’s enough. They’re an energized group of people,” said Graves campaign manager Tim Baker. In 2008, FreedomWorks, the group led by Dick Armey that helped kick-start the tea party movement, gave awards to two state lawmakers. One was Rubio. The other was Graves.
Hawkins, 59, is more a traditional Republican — a practicing dentist for 30 years, first elected to the Legislature in 2006. His focus in the congressional campaign is small business. He pitches himself as a steady conservative and has had little contact with the tea party movement. “He’s not really associated with it at all,” said his spokesman, Steve Holman.
“He’s not really associated with it at all”, really? I’m from CD-9 and can attest to the growing number within the Tea Party movement. The very last thing I would do as a Congressional candidate in the Ninth District is explain that I’m not associated with the Tea Party.
This statment opens Hawkins to more “good ole boy” criticism. I would argue that Hawkins should not be running as an establishment candidate in our current political environment. Establishment is “out” and limited government is “in”. Graves has continually reached out to the Tea Party and set himself up as a conservative looking to “bring the Party back”. This race seems to mirror the Rubio-Crist race in Florida and is rapidly becoming just as interesting.