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  • | 4:00 a.m. September 30, 2009
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George Will. The National Review. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

You can’t get any more conservative and Republican than those three.

They all support Marco Rubio — not Charlie Crist — for the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate.

Contrast those three pillars of conservatives with all of the Republican stalwarts and bigwigs from Sarasota and Manatee counties who hosted Crist at a fundraiser Tuesday night at Longboat Key resident John Saputo’s company, Gold Coast Eagle Distributing (see box).

We get it. Politics is politics — payoffs, paybacks, favors, future funding, access to power, protection.

But for what? For Florida’s version of Olympia Snowe and Arlen Spector?

Although the host committee and others at Tuesday’s event may have fattened Crist’s campaign funds, there’s still time. Time to see the light and change the course of America — not the Obama-Crist course of massive government.

Read the excerpts below from writer John J. Miller’s cover story in National Review on candidate Rubio.

Yes, he can. Rubio, not Crist, is the Florida GOP’s future — America’s future.

+ Excerpts on Rubio

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is running for the Senate, and he isn’t supposed to lose — let alone lose in the Republican primary. He enjoys a high approval rating, has a history of success among voters and raises campaign cash with the intensity of a Category 5 hurricane. His main opponent in the GOP primary is Marco Rubio, a 38-year-old Miami native who quotes Snoop Dogg lyrics on his Twitter account. On paper, it looks like a mismatch between an unbeatable juggernaut and a doomed also-ran.

Yet Crist may be vulnerable: He warmly embraced President Obama’s stimulus spending and is one of the most liberal politicians in the Republican firmament. Rubio is among the brightest young stars on the right.

Their contest could become the sleeper race of 2010.

That would spoil the well-laid plans of many in the GOP establishment. They want the Senate race in Florida to be over before it starts. In May, when Crist declared that he would forgo a second term as governor and aim for the seat of retiring Sen. Mel Martinez, the National Republican Senatorial Committee waited all of 14 minutes to endorse him.

“I never thought I’d see the day when a conservative was the insurgent in a Republican primary,” says Rubio. Yet this is precisely what he has become: a heavy underdog who must learn to wage the political version of asymmetric warfare. A recent Mason–Dixon poll gave Crist a big lead over his rival, 51% to 23%.

The election remains a year away. For a primary, it’s late on the calendar: Aug. 24, 2010. That gives Rubio plenty of time to catch up. The details of the Mason–Dixon poll suggest that he’ll have a fighting chance.
Among Republicans who are familiar with both candidates, Crist’s lead slips to statistical insignificance. It’s basically a dead heat.

“I’m not a kamikaze,” says Rubio. “At this time next year, you’re going to be analyzing a very different race.”
For that to come true, conservatives in Florida and around the country will have to turn Rubio’s candidacy into a cause.

Marco Antonio Rubio was born in 1971, the son of Cuban exiles. His father worked late nights as a bartender. His mother was a hotel maid and a stock clerk at Kmart. They lived in Miami, moved to Las Vegas for a few years and finally returned to Florida. “I gained an interest in politics and history from my uncle, who would read books and newspapers out loud to us,” says Rubio.

As with many boys, sports were a priority. He played defensive back for his high-school football team.
Rubio was talented enough to earn a scholarship to Tarkio College, in Missouri. After a year, he left the gridiron and transferred to the University of Florida. Then came law school at the University of Miami.

In 1998, at the age of 26, Rubio stepped into public life: He won a race to serve on the West Miami City Commission. The next year, a spot opened in the Legislature.

Rubio declared his candidacy in the special election and finished second in the Republican primary. This led to a runoff and a lot of hustling: He walked neighborhoods, knocked on doors and raised enough money to broadcast a few radio ads. In the end, he pulled off a minor upset, winning by 64 votes. It was the last time he faced a difficult race. The district was safe for Republicans, and voters sent him back to Tallahassee four times. Last year, term limits prevented him from running again.

As a young legislator, Rubio caught the eye of his elders. “He’s got all the tools,” says Jeb Bush, the former governor. “He’s charismatic and has the right principles.”

Rubio compiled a conservative voting record and started to climb the GOP’s leadership ladder, eventually becoming speaker of the House.

… Says Lindsay Harrington, a former speaker pro tem: “He has an amazing ability to deliver a message — when he gives a speech, you can hear a pin drop.”

That’s what observers say about Rubio, over and over again: He’s a first-rate communicator. “He has a gift,” says Larry Cretul, the current House speaker. “People love listening to him.” He certainly has a flair for one-liners. Cap-and-trade legislation, he says, “will do nothing but make America one of the cleanest Third World economies.” …

Behind the rhetoric and panache, there’s substance. When Rubio became speaker, he unveiled a plan to develop “100 innovative ideas for Florida’s future.” He and other officials traveled the state, holding “idea-raisers” with voters. The stated goal was to find ways to improve life in Florida without unduly increasing the size of government … Fifty-seven of the proposals were passed.

Rubio has heard suggestions, in public and private, that he should seek a different office. Rubio says he won’t budge: “I’m in this race to win. Many of the things that make America unique are threatened by politicians in Washington, D.C. We’re going to make irreversible decisions over the next four to six years. I want to be a part of correcting the course.”

The following Sarasota-Bradenton Republicans were members of the Host Committee Tuesday night for a Charlie Crist fundraiser.

Bob Beck
Carlos Beruff
Dee and Mike Bennett
Shirley and Jeff Boone
Chuck “Gator” Brown
Sandy and Vern Buchanan
Lisa Carlton and Rob Robinson
Natali and Moody Chisholm
Andrea and Jack Cox
Terri and Fred Derr
Nancy Detert
C.J. Fishman
Debbie and Dan Friedrich
Julie and Bill Galvano
Steve Harner
Donna Hayes
Shannon and Doug Holder
Amanda Edge and John Horne
Pat and Bob Johnson
Beth and Gary Kompothecras
Cathy Layton
Linda and Kumar Mahadevan
Blythe and Don McDonough
Carol and Hugh McGuire
Michelle and John McKay
Kirstin and Andy Minor
Danielle and Alex Moseley
Charlene and Pat Neal
Celeste and Mike Patete
Bettye and Michey Presha
Lynn and Ron Reagan
Christine and Eric Robinson
Will Robinson
Susanne and Henry Rodriguez
Denise and John Saputo
Susan Miller Kelly and Paul Sharff
David Shoemaker
Mary Slapp
Debbie and Brad Steube
Greg Steube
Gauvi and Daniel Suarez
Lori and Aaron Sudbury
Mary and George Thomas
Susan and Jim Tollerton
Evelyn Treworgy
Penny and Rual Verde
Leslie and Charlie Wells
Carmen and Alan Zirkelbach


Here’s a conservative and incomplete snapshot of the adverse economic effects of shutting down the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort’s operations:


• 230 rooms x 335 nights per year = 77,050 room nights per year
• 77,050 room nights x 65% occupancy = 50,082 net room nights per year
• 50,082 x $225 a night = $11,268,562 in gross room-night revenue per year
• $11,268,562 x (.04 bed tax + .07 sales tax) = $1,239,541 in tax revenue.

• 2 people x 2 meals a day ($20 breakfast + $90 dinner) = $110 a day
• $110 a day x 335 days = $36,850 a year for one couple
• $36,850 x 150 rooms (65% of the 230 rooms) = $5,527,500 in annual meal revenues
• $5,527,500 x .07 sales tax = $386,925 in tax revenue

This doesn’t take into account the purchases of booze, golf, tennis, boating, car rental, clothing, etc. Nor the effects of the income that no longer goes to support about 200 employees who no longer work at the Colony. Nor the effects on the value of surrounding properties.

Altogether: Everyone loses. 


Due to an editing error, in Sandy Gilbert’s My View column two weeks ago, “Town pension funds need further study,” the amount the town would have to pay to pay off the town’s entire unfunded liability was incorrectly reported. The amount should have said $25.6 million.



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