Wednesday, June 24, 2009
The Party of Jeb Stands For What? ... by gimleteye
From his first day in office, Gov. Charlie Crist sought to put as much distance as possible between his political fortunes and those of his predecessor, The Bush-Who-Might-Have-Been-President-If-He-Hadn't-Lost-To-Lawton Chiles. One can't help but feeling Jeb's time has passed, but clearly, that is not shared by loyalists who ran the state of Florida for a decade.
In rushing to endorse Crist for US Senate, the Republican Party doesn't put the odds of a Bush revival with the general public at gambling odds. Rather, it hopes that Crist's easy going style will preserve at least one US Senate seat. Jeb is not ready to confront the party hierarchy head-on: he is endorsing Bill McCollum next week for governor, but apparently not yet Marco Rubio for Senate. Rubio, who is on Jeb's A Team, has generated the saccharine attention of the right-wing of the party, including the Washington Times.
Next week's Biltmore fundraiser for McCollum draws an interesting crowd of campaign contributors, including Al Cardenas, Bush loyalist and former state Republican Party chair, and Pepe Fanjul, royally steamed that Crist went off the reservation on the US Sugar deal. The Big Sugar apple cart is driven by behind-the-scenes pulleys and levers Jeb proved more than amenable to. (Jeb signed the "Everglades Whenever Act", Crist signed the "Growth Anywhere Act".)
But Sugar is a side-show to a former governor, Jeb!, asserting his authority against the New Dawn Side of the Republican Party. It is not exactly a collision of tectonic forces. Within the Party there is much bloviating about the nature of true conservatism. So far, it doesn't add up to much at all: just fragments of ideology blown apart by the worst economic crisis since the Depression. This disarray in the state and national economy is largely a result of what Republicans did while they were in power (see our archive, 'housing crash'). Jeb had the good fortune of being propelled by the housing asset bubble and construction boom that is over and not coming back any time soon.
I'm looking forward to learning what the Republican Party represents, because so far the narrow-cast, push and pull of internal party politics is a not-so-entertaining diversion.