Cantor Endorses Rubio In Florida

April 20, 2010 5:48 a.m.

It wasn’t that long ago that Marco Rubio was the outsider candidate in the Florida GOP Senate primary. But with Gov. Charlie Crist flirting more and more with dropping out of the race and switching to an independent bid — not to mention Rubio’s surging poll and fundrasing numbers — Rubio is racking up establishment endorsements faster than you can say “bandwagon.”

Case in point: House Minority Whip Eric Cantor endorsed Rubio this morning, joining the list of establishment Republicans that includes Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani.

“Marco Rubio is just the type of leader our country needs and will make an excellent Senator for the State of Florida,” Cantor said in a statement today.Crist still enjoys at least the theoretical support of the NRSC, which backed Crist early and (sort of) stuck by him on as Rubio surged past Crist in polls and money. But even that establishment group is ready to bring the once-outsider Rubio in. Yesterday, NRSC executive director Rob Jesmer urged Crist to drop out rather than switch to an independent run, and he promised to back Rubio if Crist leaves the GOP.

Cantor took a swipe at Crist’s independent talk while announcing his decision to back Rubio, CQ Politics reports.

“That to me shows someone that has built a career on our party and the principals we believe is ready to jettison that in order to stay in office,” Cantor said, according to CQ.

The Cantor announcement is likely just one of many establishment endorsements headed Rubio’s way in the coming days. It’s not exactly clear what the endorsements will do for Rubio — he’s proven he can run without the mainstream establishment behind him and it’s likely people like Cantor are think they need cred from standing next to Rubio more than Rubio needs their name on a lit piece.

Still, the backing of a powerful figure and a talented fundraiser like Cantor can only help Rubio, and serve to help him shift quickly to general election fundraising if Crist drops out of the primary.

The TPM Poll Average for the Crist-Rubio GOP Senate primary (which may not be around much longer) shows Rubio in the lead by a margin of 59.1-27.9.

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