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Rubio gets some good news in run for U.S. Senate

The fundraiser set to be hosted Wednesday by elected officials and business leaders at the posh Biltmore Hotel in South Florida sounds like countless other receptions benefiting Florida's political establishment.

But the invitation topped with bold-faced names is for Marco Rubio, the upstart candidate for the U.S. Senate challenging the popular Gov. Charlie Crist for the GOP nomination.

The former Miami lawmaker is coming off a good week on the campaign trail.

On Wednesday, Rubio got 73 votes to Crist's 9 in a straw poll conducted by the Republican Party of Pasco.

"I wanted to see how our conservative base felt about the U.S. Senate race," chairman Randy Maggard wrote in a letter to Rubio announcing the result.

Why should this concern Crist?

The Pasco Republican Executive Committee endorsed Crist early in his 2006 GOP primary against Tom Gallagher. At the 2005 Ronald Reagan Day Dinner in Pasco, Crist told boisterous supporters that he considered the county his back yard.

Rubio also burnished his credentials as a fiscal hawk with an endorsement this week from U.S. Sen. James DeMint of South Carolina, one of the most conservative members of Congress.

And an MSNBC interviewer introduced him on television Friday as "GOP's Barack Obama'' and "the man who might be the answer to the GOP's problems."

While none of these developments come close to signaling a real threat to Crist and his lopsided lead in statewide polls, they suggest Rubio's campaign is not a lost cause.

"I think that the debate is healthy, and nobody in this country, the last time I checked, is entitled to anything," said state Rep. Steve Bovo of Hialeah, a host of Rubio's upcoming fundraiser.

Rubio gets some good news in run for U.S. Senate 06/19/09 [Last modified: Friday, June 19, 2009 10:24pm]
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