Florida: Huckabee Backs Rivera for Open House Seat

Posted June 9, 2010 at 6:30pm

While former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) has been at odds with the national party establishment when it comes to endorsements in Florida’s top House takeover targets this cycle, he’s on the same page with GOP leaders in Washington in the open 25th district seat.

On Wednesday, Huckabee announced that he and his political action committee would back state Rep. David Rivera (R) in the battleground seat that is being opened up by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart’s (R) decision to run in the 21st district this fall.

Huckabee praised Rivera, who is vying for the nomination against conservative radio host Paul Crespo and attorney Marili Cancio, as “the type of candidate that has consistently brought much-needed energy, enthusiasm and expertise to Florida politics.”

The National Republican Congressional Committee showed its support of Rivera when it quickly boosted him to the top tier of its “Young Guns” candidate development program after he filed in late February. But the committee isn’t likely to concur with some of Huckabee’s other Florida endorsements.

In the 8th district, which is at the top of GOP target lists, Huckabee is supporting former state Senate Majority Leader Daniel Webster. But the NRCC recruited businessman Bruce O’Donoghue into that contest in the hope of defeating Rep. Alan Grayson (D) this fall.

In the neighboring 24th district, held by Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D), Huckabee has endorsed Winter Park City Commissioner Karen Diebel (R). The NRCC was keen on Diebel early on but has since become more enthusiastic about businessman Craig Miller in that battleground race.

Huckabee and the NRCC both are backing former state Rep. Dennis Ross (R) for the Republican-leaning open seat in the 12th district.

Poll: Independent Crist Leads Senate Field

Independent voters so far are sticking with Gov. Charlie Crist in the Senate race, according to a Quinnipiac University poll conducted June 1-7.

Quinnipiac’s survey of 1,133 Florida voters tested opinion of a three-way Senate race between Crist and the likely major party nominees, Rep. Kendrick Meek (D) and former state Speaker Marco Rubio (R).

Crist was the favorite of 37 percent of those surveyed. Rubio was the choice of 33 percent and Meek that of 17 percent.

When voters were asked about a slightly different scenario, Crist’s position improved.

If the Democratic nominee is real estate mogul Jeff Greene, 40 percent of the sampled voters said they would prefer Crist. Rubio’s number held steady at 33 percent, and Greene drew 14 percent.

Crist “is doing very well among independent voters, almost as well among Democrats as Meek, and better among Democrats than Greene,” Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a news release.

“With Rubio getting two-thirds of the Republican vote, the fate of Gov. Crist, who switched from a Republican to independent six weeks ago, depends heavily on his ability to appeal to Democratic voters,” Brown said.

The survey’s margin of error was 2.9 points.