Gov. Charlie Crist’s (R-FL) Senate campaign in Florida just announced raising $1.1 million in the first quarter of 2010. This might seem impressive in theory, but in fact was less than a third of the amount that was raised by his rival in the Republican primary, the former underdog and (now frontrunner) Marco Rubio, whose campaign announced two days ago that he took in $3.6 million.
The Crist campaign’s press release had the title, “Charlie Crist For U. S. Senate Campaign Reports Over $10 Million Raised To Date,” and boasted of Crist’s very impressive $7.5 million cash-on-hand. Indeed, Crist was raising money hand over fist early on in this race, when he was widely seen as the seemingly inevitable frontrunner.Back at the start of this race, Crist was widely assumed to be the eventual Republican nominee, compared to the current big lead that the more vocally conservative Rubio has in the Republican primary polls. But over the last six months, Rubio has picked up steam on his hard-line conservative message, and now enjoys an enormous lead in the polls. The TPM Poll Average gives Rubio a lead of 57.4%-29.1%.
Perhaps the single most important reason for Rubio’s turnaround in polling — and in current cash-flow — was the key issue of Crist’s support a year ago for President Obama’s stimulus package.