NRSC Won’t Spend Money In Contested Primaries

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On the heels of the NY-23 special House election, in which Conservative Party insurgent Doug Hoffman overtook moderate GOP nominee Dede Scozzafava, only to lose to Democrat Bill Owens, NRSC chairman John Cornyn (R-TX) has announced that the GOP’s national Senate committee will not be spending money in contested primaries.

“There’s no incentive for us to weigh in,” Cornyn told ABC News. “We have to look at our resources.”

This could have huge ramifications in the Florida Senate race, where moderate Gov. Charlie Crist has been endorsed by the NRSC, and faces the more conservative former state House Speaker Marco Rubio. Crist has already emerged as a new top target for the same right-wing activists who went after Scozzafava.Crist may be the officially endorsed candidate of the national GOP, but this official support won’t count for much if he doesn’t get actual money from the party. At best, he could be able to round up extra fundraising and endorsements, separate from the official party apparatus but thanks to its imprimatur. The campaign of the likely Democratic nominee, Rep. Kendrick Meek, sent out the story in a release today, calling the news a “major development.”

Cornyn said that the party can learn from NY-23. “The first lesson is that competitive primaries are generally a good thing,” Cornyn said. “To me, that’s the overarching lesson to be learned out of the 23rd. When 11 people get behind closed doors and pick the nominee … the grassroots are going to find an alternative.”

Late Update: A national GOP source downplayed the story to TPM, telling us: “Far from being a major development, this is really nothing more than clarifying what should be obvious to anyone who has been following the dynamics of the Florida Senate race. It’s a major development when the President of the United States comes to your state and doesn’t know how to pronounce the last name of the Democrat Senate candidate. This isn’t.”

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