Senatorial Committee will not spend money in contested primaries

Rick Moran
If the NY23 race was at bottom, a way for rank and file conservatives to send a message to the national Republicans, on at least one level they have already succeeded in getting through.

Much was made a few months ago when the National Republican Senatorial Committee tapped Charles Crist, the moderately conservative governor of Florida, to run for the seat being vacated by Senator Mel Martinez. This, despite the fact that one of the real up and comers in the GOP - a strong conservative, and former Speaker of the Florida House named Marco Rubio had made it plain that he was planning a run.

The anger at the NRSC for butting their nose into a state primary should have taught the establishment Republicans a lesson. But then came the fiasco in NY23 and now, at least on the senate side, sanity reigns. The NRSC will not take sides in any more open primaries.

ABC's Rick Klein reports:

With Republicans grappling with the fallout of an intra-party battle that may have cost them a House seat, the head of the Senate Republican campaign effort is making a pledge that may ease some of the anger being directed at the party establishment."We will not spend money in a contested primary," Sen. John Cornyn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told ABC News in a telephone interview today.

"There's no incentive for us to weigh in," said Cornyn, R-Texas. "We have to look at our resources. . . . We're not going to throw money into a [primary] race leading up to the election."

Cornyn said his pledge extends to races for open Senate seats -- not incumbents who may face primaries next year. The NRSC so far has endorsed candidates in four open Senate seats -- Florida, Missouri, Illinois, and Pennsylvania.

Cornyn's commitment is most immediately relevant in Florida, where the NRSC's candidate, Gov. Charlie Crist, is facing an aggressive challenge on his right from state House Speaker Marco Rubio.

Some of the same conservative groups that supported Doug Hoffman in New York's 23rd congressional district are making noises about backing Rubio, in a contest that could be the next showdown over the direction of the party.

Those lines have already been drawn in the blogosphere as strong support for Rubio is present among online activists. They have pumped cash into Rubio's coffers while ceaselessly trashing Crist as too moderate to win.

So far, no realistic alternatives have emerged in states with GOP incumbents who might face a challenge based on their voting record. It remains to be seen how much the NRSC will involve itself in races like that given the warnings from conservatives to stay out of local races.



If the NY23 race was at bottom, a way for rank and file conservatives to send a message to the national Republicans, on at least one level they have already succeeded in getting through.

Much was made a few months ago when the National Republican Senatorial Committee tapped Charles Crist, the moderately conservative governor of Florida, to run for the seat being vacated by Senator Mel Martinez. This, despite the fact that one of the real up and comers in the GOP - a strong conservative, and former Speaker of the Florida House named Marco Rubio had made it plain that he was planning a run.

The anger at the NRSC for butting their nose into a state primary should have taught the establishment Republicans a lesson. But then came the fiasco in NY23 and now, at least on the senate side, sanity reigns. The NRSC will not take sides in any more open primaries.

ABC's Rick Klein reports:

With Republicans grappling with the fallout of an intra-party battle that may have cost them a House seat, the head of the Senate Republican campaign effort is making a pledge that may ease some of the anger being directed at the party establishment.

"We will not spend money in a contested primary," Sen. John Cornyn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told ABC News in a telephone interview today.

"There's no incentive for us to weigh in," said Cornyn, R-Texas. "We have to look at our resources. . . . We're not going to throw money into a [primary] race leading up to the election."

Cornyn said his pledge extends to races for open Senate seats -- not incumbents who may face primaries next year. The NRSC so far has endorsed candidates in four open Senate seats -- Florida, Missouri, Illinois, and Pennsylvania.

Cornyn's commitment is most immediately relevant in Florida, where the NRSC's candidate, Gov. Charlie Crist, is facing an aggressive challenge on his right from state House Speaker Marco Rubio.

Some of the same conservative groups that supported Doug Hoffman in New York's 23rd congressional district are making noises about backing Rubio, in a contest that could be the next showdown over the direction of the party.

Those lines have already been drawn in the blogosphere as strong support for Rubio is present among online activists. They have pumped cash into Rubio's coffers while ceaselessly trashing Crist as too moderate to win.

So far, no realistic alternatives have emerged in states with GOP incumbents who might face a challenge based on their voting record. It remains to be seen how much the NRSC will involve itself in races like that given the warnings from conservatives to stay out of local races.