Rubio Picks Up Christian Right Support Against Crist

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June 4, 2009 6:46 a.m.

Marco Rubio, the former Florida state House Speaker who is waging an up-hill conservative challenge in the Republican primary for Senate against Gov. Charlie Crist, is now lining up some right-wing support to oppose Crist.

Rubio announced yesterday that Dennis Baxley, the former state Speaker Pro Tempore and outgoing head of the state Christian Coalition, will be backing his candidacy — a decent pickup in Rubio’s mission to solidify support on the religious right. The big question here is whether Rubio will be able to mobilize conservative activists against Crist — who starts out with an enormous lead in the polls — in light of the moderate governor’s support for the stimulus and his other breaks from Republican orthodoxy.

Also, the Jacksonville Observer points out, Baxley previously supported Crist’s opponent in the 2006 open-seat gubernatorial primary, and Crist won that nomination in a landslide. But Baxley is undeterred. “Gov. Crist is very popular,” he said. “But that’s what you get when you’re on both sides of every issue. But as a party, we need to show that we can advance people with real leadership skills.”

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