NRSC Learns its Charlie Crist Lesson

Posted: Dec 09, 2010 9:04 AM
Following the Rubio/Crist primary endorsement misadventure, NRSC Chairman John Cornyn says he's heard the message from Republican voters loud and clear, and he's taken it to heart:

Senate Republican leaders are still eating crow for endorsing Florida Gov. Charlie Crist in his Senate GOP primary against Marco Rubio, who won in the end.

Now, Whispers hears, the National Republican Senatorial Committee won’t endorse any 2012 candidate during the primaries. Committee Chairman Sen. John Cornyn is quietly telling critics of his Crist endorsement, especially conservatives, “I heard you,” says a GOP official. Now, even friends of the NRSC will get the same encouragement to run as others. “We will not endorse at the expense of the voters,” says the official.

Conservative stalwart Sen. Jim DeMint, whose Senate Conservatives Fund proved impactful during the 2010 cycle, pledged last week not to help "primary" any GOP Senate incumbents up for re-election in 2012. Somewhere, Olympia Snowe breathed a sigh of relief:

In an interview last month with POLITICO, DeMint said his “plan right now is to support all our incumbents” in 2012. But in Wednesday’s letter, DeMint stops short of saying he’ll support all GOP incumbents. And in a follow-up interview Thursday, he said he’s not promising support for GOP senators in primaries – only that he’ll stay out of the primaries altogether.

...In the aftermath of this fall’s midterm elections, DeMint took heat for backing conservative candidates in primaries like Ken Buck in Colorado and Christine O’Donnell in Delaware who lost their general election races. At the same time, he’s taken credit for jumping behind Marco Rubio of Florida when the party establishment had rallied behind Gov. Charlie Crist, who later left the Republican Party and lost to Rubio as an independent.