In yet another indication of the Republican Party closing ranks around Marco Rubio in the Florida Senate primary, Mitt Romney is now endorsing his candidacy in the Republican primary over the initial favorite, Gov. Charlie Crist.
The TPM Poll Average shows Rubio leading int he primary by 59.1%-27.9%, a mirror image of Crist’s initial lead in the race last year. Rubio parlayed conservative discontent with Crist, especially over Crist’s support of President Obama’s 2009 stimulus bill, into support that helped him overtake the governor in the polls.
Crist further alienated Republicans yesterday when he vetoed a GOP-backed education bill, which would have eliminated tenure for new teachers and instituted strict merit pay guidelines. This has led to increased speculation that Crist could leave the Republican Party and run for Senate as an independent against Rubio and Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek — a possibility that Crist no longer seems to be ruling out.