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Conservative Inc.’s branch office in Florida

If Ron Paul runs for President in 2012 his campaign may want to consider skipping the Florida primary altogether and save itself the expense of competing in what would be a very difficult state for him. Not only was it his worst state in 2008 primaries [1], but the ascension of state House Speaker Marco Rubio to be its  nominee for the U.S. Senate means that the state’s GOP has become a branch office for Conservative Inc. [2]

It was Conservative Inc.  that fueled Rubio’s rise. Their organizations funded his campaign which made it a credible enough alternative for Florida GOPers to turn to when Gov. Charlie Crist’s popularity ratings collapsed from the summer of 2009 until this past week’s announcement of his abandonment of the party [3] for the upcoming U.S. Senate race.

There was another announcement about the Florida senate race a week ago that received much less attention but was just as significant. For New Hampshire U.S. Senator Bob Smith, who had relocated to Florida, had started a campaign for Senate last year and planned to run to Rubio’s Right. Indeed, Rubio provided opening from that flank when he criticized Arizona’s new immigration law. [4] Instead, due to a lack of support and money, Smith ended his campaign [5]. Thus, the only Right alternative in the U.S. Senate race will be the Constitution Party’s candidate Bernie DeCastro [6]. Or for Libertarians, Alex Snitker [7].

Then again, even if someone like Smith could make an effective anti-immigration argument, very few in Florida, whether they are in agriculture industry or former immigrants themselves, may want to hear it.  If there was little support for Smith, a former  U.S. Senator, in among Florida Republicans, or Crist for that matter, then one can only deduce that the party has become a branch office of Conservative Inc.: pro-immigration, pro-empire, pro-big government so long as it benefits them, pro-flat tax and pro-senior citizen entitlements like Medicare and Social Security. McCain won Florida with a solid 36 percent of the vote in a six-person race and if Rudy Guliani hadn’t been on the ballot, McCain would have won by a majority because they both shared the same voter base. That base is basically made up of veterans, military personnel, the elderly, the South Florida Cuban vote, the farm sector and the North Florida Jacksonian vote. It embodies all the contradictions of so-called conservatism, the epitome of which was a recent Tea Party demonstration outside NASA’s headquarters [8]in Cape Kennedy protesting President Obama’s space program because it spends too little.

This writer doesn’t begrudge Crist for doing what candidates like Lincoln Chaffee in Rhode Island, Joe Cahill in Massachusetts or even Joe Lieberman in Connecticut are doing or have done: running as independents for high office when their respective parties have may it quite clear they no longer have any use for them.  It’s not so much opportunism as the ambitious looking for an easier, better path to victory and they would be foolhardy not to do so.  It’s also a good reminder that a year is still a long time in politics. It was not long ago that Crist was touted as a new breed of Republican politician who would broaden the base of the party. Obviously the party has decided it would rather energize the “base” rather than building a big tent, at least for the midterm election.

The Republican Establishment has also demonstrated once again that it will cut loose moderate or establishment candidates if they are losing in the polls. The NRSC made it clear Crist was its candidate when he first announced and now is jumping on the Rubio bandwagon, just as it did last year in the New York House race with Doug Hoffman [9] (abandoning their own party’s nominee in the process) If I’m Susan Collins or Olympia Snowe, and I get a credible, well funded primary opponent in Maine’s next Senate election, then I certainly can’t count on the party helping me out. They are in a weak position and they know it. They have less money than their Democrat counterparts and Conservative Inc. groups are going ahead with their own efforts to raise money for their preferred candidates this year.

If both Rubio and Rand Paul both are able to make their way to Washington this fall, you could be seeing two future leaders of two factions that will be battling for control of the party in the future. The party establishment can only watch and take their cues from the winner.

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#1 Comment By bob On May 1, 2010 @ 7:01 pm

Ron Paul is not the tea party.

#2 Comment By Capt Cooke On May 1, 2010 @ 9:04 pm

Actually a great ticket would be Ron Paul on top and Rubio on the bottom.

#3 Comment By daddysteve On May 1, 2010 @ 9:31 pm

The small govt. faction will become the liberTea party.

#4 Comment By daddysteve On May 1, 2010 @ 9:32 pm

Be there or be square.

#5 Comment By Matt On May 1, 2010 @ 10:53 pm

Ron Paul started the concept of the Tea Party that later became the movement during his 2008 presidential campaign (Google it.). That being said, the Tea Party as it exists today does not have a clear leader. According to a recent poll, people in Tea Party are roughly split into camps: Sarah Palin & Ron Paul.

You may be confusing Ron Paul with his son Rand Paul, whom the article is talking about in the final paragraph (confusing because the article begins by talking about Ron Paul – maybe they’re confused too). Rand Paul is the leading Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Kentucky and looks very strong to win the seat in November. He is seen as a leader of the Tea Party movement, enjoys their endorsement as well as Sarah Palin’s, and if he wins will be the strongest message yet to the Republican establishment that the Tea Party movement is a force to be reckoned with.

#6 Comment By Matt On May 1, 2010 @ 10:55 pm

Here’s that story on the Tea Party movement: [10]

#7 Comment By Joe On May 1, 2010 @ 11:29 pm

The article was about Rand Paul, his son and a Kentucky candidate for U.S. Senate, not Ron Paul, Bob.

#8 Comment By tbraton On May 1, 2010 @ 11:51 pm

“It was Conservative Inc. that fueled Rubio’s rise. Their organizations funded his campaign which made it a credible enough alternative for Florida GOPers to turn to when Gov. Charlie Crist’s popularity ratings collapsed from the summer of 2009 until this past week’s announcement of his abandonment of the party for the upcoming U.S. Senate race.”

You are confusing Crist’s popularity within the Republican Party with his overall popularity. Despite Florida’s having one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation (12.2% vs.9.7% nationwide), his approval ratings are around 56%, no mean feat for an incumbent governor under such circumstances (ask Arnold in California), which bodes well for his independent run for the Senate. This is especially true in light of Obama’s victory in Florida in 2008 over McCain.

“McCain won Florida with a solid 36 percent of the vote in a six-person race and if Rudy Guliani hadn’t been on the ballot, McCain would have won by a majority because they both shared the same voter base. That base is basically made up of veterans, military personnel, the elderly, the South Florida Cuban vote, the farm sector and the North Florida Jacksonian vote.”

You overlook the fact that it was Crist’s last minute endorsement of McCain that turned a very tight primary race into a McCain victory. There is no question that, had Crist endorsed Romney instead, Romney would have won the primary, not McCain. But, then, you could argue that Romney is part of Conservative, Inc. since he had the apparent backing of the Bush family.

Another factor which bodes well for Crist is that he is a very likable politician and has won state-wide elections three times. His likely opponents, by contrast, Rubio and Meek, have only been elected by their districts in the Miami area (one overwhelmingly Cuban and one overwhelmingy black) and have not run or won a state-wide election before. Of course, the scandal involving Rubio’s abuse of the Republican Party credit card has yet to play out. This has the potential to significantly tarnish, if not destroy, Rubio’s candidacy. I find it significant that Rubio has yet to release his tax returns, and, based on experience going back to Nixon’s refusal to release the White House tapes during the Watergate scandal, such a refusal usually indicates that there is something to hide.

Another factor to consider is that Crist, as Attorney General of Florida, refused to follow Goveror Jeb Bush’s lead and fight on behalf of Terri Schiavo’s parents in their futile bid to preserve the “life” of their brain-dead daughter. Poll results back then showed that Floridians overwhemingly rejected the Bush/Schindler position and approved of Crist’s position, which was the correct one and the one consistent with conservative Republican principles (at least when they are not clouded over with extreme religious beliefs and emotions). It is interesting that Rubio has embraced the position of his fellow Catholic and political mentor Jeb Bush in the Schiavo matter, which, I believe, will come up during the forthcoming campaign. Crist, btw, went on to defeat a conservative challenger in the Republican primary for Governor and to win the general election to succeed Jeb Bush.

#9 Comment By tbraton On May 2, 2010 @ 11:04 am

I would add one other item. Mel Martinez, a Cuban-born Republican, was hand picked by George W. Bush to run for the Senate in 2004. While he was able to defeat Rep, Billl McCollum (who is currently Att. Gen. and now running for Governor) for the Republican nomination after a somewhat sleazy campaign, he barely defeated his Democratic opponent in the general election by 70,000 votes (49% to 48%), even though GWB carried Florida by 52% to 47%. Martinez was able to carry only two counties that Bush did not, Orange (Martinez’ home base) and (surprise, surprise) Miami-Dade. My reading is that the Cuban label has considerable drawbacks outside of South Florida. (I personally voted against Martinez in 2004, as I did against Bush, for two reasons: the Bush imprimatur and the fact that Martinez was not born in the U.S. I personally believe that all high government offices should be filled by persons born and raised in the U.S.)

Btw it should be noted that GWB also endorsed Arlen Spector in his 2004 primary race, which Spector narrowly won against the conservative Pat Toomey. I hope Toomey defeats the now-Democrat Spector in this year’s Senate election. Wouldn’t the country and the Republican Party have been better off had GWB not endorsed Spector in 2004? Had Toomey gone on to win, the Democrats would have lacked the magic 60 votes to push through Obamacare, for one thing.

#10 Comment By spinnikerca On May 2, 2010 @ 11:48 am

Folks, the tea parties started during Ron Paul’s presidential campaign. In fact his $6 million dollar money bomb was on the anniversary of the tea party and there were tea parties all over the nation. Try putting ‘Ron Paul” 2007 tea party in the search bar at youtube. Rand is a product of the tea party, and more conventionally conservative than his father, but still a strict constitutionalist.

I like them both. We need people with firmer principles.

#11 Comment By JOHN F. On May 2, 2010 @ 9:04 pm

Ron Paul is the tea party, and Ron Paul’s message of a Constitutionally liited government and non-interventionist foreign policy espoused by our founders is growing rapidly. I just hope that Americans realize that all empires end when they stretch themselves too thin and have a bloated welfare state which both taken together cause the eventual collapse of the state.

Ron Paul is the future. Ron Paul’s idea of true liberty is the future, and not the establishment version of liberty which must be accompanied with an * (liberty*).

#12 Comment By roberts On May 28, 2010 @ 5:09 am

Libertarians sure won’t be voting for the man they call Adolph Stinker.

His advocating the Fair Tax is no mistake. He’s part of a kook GOP group that took over the Libertarians in Florida determined to stop them from using their treasury, dedicated to that purpose, to work for a pro-pot and a no-tax initiative, and run a Full Slate of candidates in 2012. Stealing from the members.

They’ve been leaving the party in droves. Real Libertarians either drifted away, were purged, or left the Libertarian Party Florida after the GOP takeover in 2009. Their largest affiliate voted to dissolve because it refused to have anything to do with him or the GOP moles running the Florida Libertarians now. In my affiliate some thugs showed up one day and that was it. They’ve set up cardboard affiliates that say vote GOP through the state while GOP members populate their facebook. 90% of the public offices are down because people don’t want to be associated with the anti-Libertarian right-wing nutcase candidate plants.

My read is they’re deliberately not following procedures in hope of ruinous fines so no one will try and save it. They’re already talking of a new “Florida Libertarian Party” controlled by the GOP whose job will be to sue any other Libertarian parties and advocate pet right-wing causes like the anti-Libertarian flat tax. They’ve been holding meetings barring all but their cronies for months.

He isn’t even the first Libertarian Senate candidate, the only Florida history he and the other candidaters are making is running as GOP stooges, and he sure won’t raise 2 million bucks. He’ll blame his failure on the “radical” (that is, real) Libertarians for undermining him and the party will be in ruins. All these guys do when they’re not attacking Libertarianism is attack Ron Paul.

There’s talk of a lawsuit from the remaining members. I hope so.

#13 Comment By Kenneth On May 28, 2010 @ 5:14 am

Interesting that you confirm the previous writer in calling Snitker as an alternative “Right” wing candidate in the traditionally centrist Libertarian Party of Florida. Who is Conservative, Inc. again, you?

#14 Comment By Anna On June 21, 2010 @ 7:06 am

I read this article and now months later admit the saga in the Libertarian Party of Florida continues. Snitker’s supporters are now claiming he’s to the right of Rubio! [11] June 20, 2010
12:13 p.m “Alex offers a much more conservative stance than Marco Rubio.”

Here’s from a letter:

“Well, now I’ve also talked to people who confirm there has been a takeover of the Florida LP. After talking to the Chair, McCurry, and Vice-Chair, Kirkland, and communicating with the National Reps such as Hawkridge and several officers and listening to their extreme right-wing diatribes and attacks on people I know are solid Libertarians for being “radical” well, I don’t doubt it.

The candidates have anti-Libertarian positions like raising taxes, and expanding Eminent Domain. The Governor candidate ran a few years ago calling for the death penalty for pot smokers, denied it, then admitted it as a “transitional” postion. He has a criminal background and problems with his daughter travelling around the state alleging he raped her. I discovered he was expelled permenently from the party and their by-laws don’t even allow them to have a Governor candidate for the time being. He sent people an e-mail denouncing “neo-conservatives in the ” party then recommends neo-conservative sites at yahoo groups.

The takeover people thought I was with them and told me they intended to reveal all this to the media and sink the party as another example of “kook” Libertarian candidates. A Libertarian in public office told me she was verbally attacked by the Reform Caucus, a GOP group to improve the Libertarian Party whose people have been disrupting meetings and setting up phony, GOP run affiliates. What I do know is that the meetings are now all secret and you can’t get the names of affiliate officers. Since meetings must be open or the party officers are deemed to have resigned, who’s running what is a mystery. The Governor candidate, Smith, was nominated while still a candidate for the Boston Tea Party, another right-wing group, which they claim was founded by a fellow called Knapp posing as a “radical” or non-extremist right-wing. Since the guy has a reputation as a radical but the Party he founded is conservative, that’s pretty much the zany atmosphere. I have seen e-mails from their Tea Party sites where they discuss infiltrating Smith in to seize control of the LP Florida treasury.What I was told was their friends would buy materials, be reimbursed, and then send the materials back so it would look like they were expanding the party but it was tax free and would sink the party.

Some claim it was with help from extreme right-wingers around disgraced Florida GOP Chair Greer and the extreme pro-GOP faction in the National Committee of the USLP who call themselves reformists or pragmatist “moderates.” Again, after communicating with the people involved it makes sense.These aren’t conservatives, but right-wing extremists. Many are racists with US Military ties. They especially hate Hispanics to judge by complaints.

Most of the Libertarian people have actually left or been purged and if you search on-web you’ll find plenty of unhappy e-mails and comments to articles going on for months. I was amazed at the silence in the national Party on this until I had a talk with the significant other of a national staff. They said they were told to suppress information on anything not approved by the takeover people, McCurry and Kirkland. They cried on my shoulder and said they were looking for another job and it was an atmosphere of terror there.

I’ve viewed films of people suggesting recruitment by national and state leaders were getting lists from the state GOP of Republicans to convert to instant Libertarians and take over affiliates. One person said the national party had secretly run money through accounts to pay people to phone Libertarians and spread attacks. Apparently they want to get rid of state Libertarians who are perceived as more informed than national members. In fact, after I looked at state documents I found that none of the state officers was actually an LP Florida member. I believe they’re deliberately creating a legal mess and will start a new “Florida Libertarian Party” they run.There is a letter from an officer who was a ringleader partially confirming all this also making the rounds along with the recordings. In one recording the state executive spent time trying to figure out loopholes to get rid of legitimately elected officers at one of their secret meetings. In another the state chair said the party founder could kiss his *ss.

There is also a film circulating where the state chair helps Bob barr put up phony votes at the convention where he was nominated. When I asked the reply was “So what?” and was given an e-mail from the Reform Caucus saying Libertarian politicians needed to learn how to lie.

I spoke to several officers who resigned or let their terms lapse. I learned of one who said he had no doubt there was plenty of illegality but he needed his sleep as they had a reputation for harrassment and intimidation.

The whole has left Libertarians agape in Florida and telling people not to vote for the official LP candidates and talking about a lawsuit. The entire legitimate members boycotted the national Convention: the people who showed up weren’t legally members, invalidating the votes, something they hope to use lkater, I was told, to disrupt the national party or make it look foolish. Some complained to the party founder, David Nolan, but feel he won’t answer calls or e-mails, does nothing and just wants to paper it over and pretend everything is beautiful. One told of a call where they wondered how to kick him out on a technicality. Most are just leaving and talking about a new Libertarian Party.Their largest affiliate with nearly half their actives dissolved after a vote to boycott. The takeover people then created a new one which gets no one at the meetings and whose FB is mostly out of county takeover people. This was the most dramatic case, they simply started new ones and purged those they didn’t like against state law. The state FB site is a joke, mostly GOP or people too new to know what’s going on or people out of state. The state local affiliates have sites that now all push extreme right-wing agendas (one linked to a group called “extreme right-wing), illegally promote Rubio or GOP candidates, or propose pushing something like California’s Proposition 14 or allowing major party members to vote in Libertarian primaries to ensure “competition.” I was told before the new national party committee meeting recently that opposition to Prop 14 would go nowhere as they were being paid to support it. So it did. One Libertarian group I belong to has closed up after being getting contant flames from the takeover people that “real Libertarians support taxes” and “Libertarians have done nothing in 40 years so lets get the GOP in and get the LP moving again” and the like. Peoiple were told that the new loyalty test was non-support for the old “radical” LP 2004 platform and constitutionalist candidates.

The people now leading the LP Florida worked to get a primary law passed to “get the monopoly on Libertarianism away from Libertarians” but also annoy the taxpayer with expensive primaries where only a few show up. A state officer said that was for the best, since “Libertarian conservatism” was best done through the GOP anyway. Their affiliate leaders attack their candidates and say vote GOP even as they pro forma barge into media meetings complaining of no media.

What do the candidates want to tell us? You talk to their candidates like Snitker and his people and soon they focus on attacks on Ron Paul, Murray Rothbard, David Nolan, Lew Rockwell, and tell you local long-time activists are Communist spies. They actually laughed that they had pulled one on Judge Napolitano who got them an interview on Fox News. People in the media who have long relations with the LP Florida old timers and people in office just report the minimum. The feeling is they used to get great media coverage but now not at all after the Reform Caucus took over, gutted their state platform, and went to work with the GOP. The candidates simply tell lies, like the party never had real candidates or ever got Libertarians in public office. They’re also using a state law to purge anyone elected as an officer to an affiliate they don’t like, a state law they helped create (so says their s Governor candidate, who claimed he wrote it, then denied it, then, etc.)

Many of the people in public office have resigned rather than be identified with the candidates. I called several of the remaining and found people they’re claiming have either backed off or aren’t even in the Libertarian Party but in the GOP and surprised they were listed! One said the last two conventions were complete phonies run by right-wing GOP, and sent documents suggesting they had held a secret convention to muddy the waters since they knew their nominating convention might be subject to a lawsuit.

In summary, people are saying the LP Florida has been flooded with GOP extremist instant Libertarians who aren’t even members of the party; has elected officers and candidates (with the knowledge of the national LP officers) that aren’t legitimate or according to their by-laws or rules; and the main activity of the party is purging Libertarians and of the actual Libertarians telling the public stay away from the state party and now the national party. Oh, and they sent a lot of the materials circulating to the State AG, the FBI, and anyone who would listen and so far the state GOP Chair has been indicted. Basically, the GOP is putting candidates in to undermine and discredit as with the Greens (another lawsuit), except they hope this time there will be no lawsuit as they control the state officers, and the Proposition 14 will be proposed by the LP Florida to effectively destroy 3rd parties in Florida and, at worst, create such a mess that people will call for that.

It’s all really pretty amazing, Southern dirty-tricks politics on mescaline, where a national party is trying to subvert its own most successful state party and local affiliates.

A state officer told me it all boiled down to this: Support any Libertarians and forms of Libertarianism but actual Libertarians and Libertarianism.”

#15 Comment By Tim On June 28, 2010 @ 12:47 pm

Go Rubio!

#16 Comment By PJ McFlur On November 3, 2010 @ 7:59 am

Im with Bob. Ron Paul was smart enough to distance himself in case some stupidity comes up. We still have several months before Ron announces.. but when he does. Expect an army of volunteers to jump up. We have laid such an incredible amount of infrastructure for him. I cant wait to see what is next!!!