With Gov. Charlie Crist reshuffling the U.S. Senate race as an independent candidate, Republican Marco Rubio reaffirmed his frontrunner status Wednesday by announcing a widely anticipated endorsement from former Gov. Jeb Bush.
Bush, a Republican icon in Florida and nationwide, was a major proponent of the controversial teacher tenure bill Crist vetoed and had called the governor's support for President Obama's economic stimulus package "unforgivable." After Crist left the GOP last week to run a non-partisan race, Bush's involvement in the Rubio campaign was a foregone conclusion.
"The last thing the Senate needs is another politician who has to take a poll to make a decision," Bush said. "With Marco, what you see is what you get. . . And most of all, you can trust that his principles will not change every time the political winds shift direction."
Crist shrugged off the endorsement. "I thought that happened a long time ago," he said, promoting a food drive in St. Petersburg.
Rubio was expected to steamroll Crist in the GOP primary, but polls show the race evening out with Crist running as an independent candidate in a general election open to all voters. U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami is the leading Democratic candidate.
"I think Gov. Bush will play an important role on the vote-getting side and the fundraising side," said Jorge Arrizurieta, a Rubio supporter and longtime Bush ally.
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