Cornyn glad Crist drove strong Dems out of his race, but won't spend money to help him 

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn told reporters this morning that although he is "honor-bound" to stand behind Republican Gov. Charlie Crist for Senate in Florida, that doesn't mean his organization will lift a finger to help him.

I think our posture here is, I endorsed Gov. Crist early on, before this became a real contest," Cornyn said. "I'm not going to do anything to change that. I think I'm honor-bound to leave it as it is, but it doesn't mean that we're going to be spending any money in the primary.”

Since Cornyn's endorsement last May, when Crist seemed a prohibitive frontrunner, the governor has faded to underdog, trailing by double digits in the Republican primary election against conservative former state House Speaker Marco Rubio. The key issue in the race so far has been Crist's embrace of President Obama's stimulus package last February.

But Cornyn said he was especially glad Crist had jumped into the Florida race early on, because it frightened strong Democratic candidates such as state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, D, away from jumping in themselves. Sink, who is popular statewide, chose to run for governor instead of facing Crist for Senate. The likely Democratic nominee for Senate is now Rep. Kendrick Meek, D, who polls well behind both Crist and Rubio.

When Republicans began the 2010 cycle, they were facing possible losses in open seats in Kentucky, Florida, New Hampshire, Ohio and Missouri. As a popular statewide figure likely to keep an open seat in Republican hands, Crist seemed like a natural  choice. But the Senate picture has changed significantly since then. Not only are Republican candidates leading in polls of those defensive races, but Republicans are threatening to pick up Democratic seats in at least eight states.

Cornyn also said that his colleague, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Tex., has not shared with him whether she will resign after losing the Mar. 2 primary for governor of Texas. Hutchison had announced earlier that she would resign her Senate seat regardless of whether she became her party's gubernatorial nominee, but she has since remained silent on when or whether she will do so.

Cornyn said he hoped Hutchison stays in the Senate until her term expires in 2012. Were Hutchison to resign, Gov. Rick Perry, R-Tex., would have the power to appoint a replacement and call for a special election on November's ballot, giving Republicans one more seat to defend.

About The Author

David Freddoso

David Freddoso came to the Washington Examiner in June 2009, after serving for nearly two years as a Capitol Hill-based staff reporter for National Review Online. Before writing his New York Times bestselling book, The Case Against Barack Obama, he spent three years assisting Robert Novak, the legendary Washington... more
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