The Tallahassee Democrat has an editorial today criticizing the early Crist endorsement, saying that "the more candidates in a race -- and the more level the playing field -- the better."
Exactly our point. They go on:
"A large field ignites the strong debates necessary for a healthy democracy to thrive, especially with the serious problems the country is facing. Strong-arm tactics to freeze out candidates are a disservice to voters and the cause of good government, and increase public cynicism. Ironically, the national GOP's decision to back Crist could cause blow-back.
"Many Republicans dislike Crist's moderate policies and may flock to Rubio, who is billing himself as the true conservative. That could make for the tough primary that Republican leaders in Washington want to avoid, but give GOP voters what they should have:"A wide-open contest with the best candidate winning."
The Fort Myers News-Press also weighs in today with this:
"This rush to coronate candidates -- and dissuade prospective contenders from entering primary battles -- is a disservice to voters and the election process. The election is 18 months away. Voters can't be certain yet that Crist would be a better senator than Marco Rubio, who didn't get the GOP's stamp of approval but is running for the seat nontheless.... When political parties throw their muscle behind handpicked favorites, simpy to avoid the trouble and expense of bruising primaries, that limits the public's opportunity to hear strong debates among multiple candidates."
Florida bloggers are picking up the Rubio cause as well as protesting the fact that the NRSC is trying to shut them out of the process. In April, a law student, Tommy Jardon, started the blog Run Marco Run. He says, "I want a conservative who puts the needs of Florida families first, and understands that tax and spend policies will only make us worse off then we are today. Knowing all that has left me one choice in the Florida race for U.S. Senate: House Speaker Marco Rubio."
Jardon has been posting on the progress of Rubio's announcement and the involvement of the NRSC in the race.
The point is that voters want the chance to VOTE and to feel like their vote means something. With the NRSC early endorsement and the early polls indicating Crist's lead, voters may not feel engaged in the process or that they should even attempt to be. The danger of the NRSC endorsement is that it removes the Florida voters from their own primary. Once the primary has concluded, then endorsements should be open. Let Floridians pick their own candidate.
As the campaign plays out the polls will change drastically as Rubio's name recognition grows, and we'll hear a great deal more from both Crist and Rubio, which is as it should be. And hopefully, less from Cornyn.