TALLAHASSEE, Florida (CNN) – The National Republican Senatorial Committee endorsed Florida Gov. Charlie Crist for Senate Tuesday, hoping that a statement of public support will help the governor avoid a potentially bloody primary fight and instead allow him to focus on the 2010 general election.
Crist declared his candidacy for the Senate this morning in a statement released by his campaign. He will face former state House Speaker Marco Rubio in the Republican primary Rubio declared . A Quinnipiac Poll released last month showed that Crist had a commanding lead over Rubio, 54 percent to 8 percent.
Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the NRSC chairman, said he was endorsing the governor for the seat being vacated by retiring GOP Sen. Mel Martinez, because “Charlie Crist is the best candidate in 2010 to ensure that we maintain the checks and balances that Floridians deserve in the United States Senate.”
Rubio announced his candidacy for the Senate last week.
Full Cornyn statement:
“I am pleased today to endorse Governor Charlie Crist for the United States Senate. With his record of reform in Florida, I know that Governor Crist will bring a fresh perspective to Washington in our efforts to fight for lower taxes, less government, and new job creation for all Americans. Charlie Crist is a tireless advocate on behalf of all Floridians and one of only three Governors who earned an ‘A’ from the CATO institute for his efforts to restrain spending and cut taxes last year.
“While I believe Marco Rubio has a very bright future within the Republican Party, Charlie Crist is the best candidate in 2010 to ensure that we maintain the checks and balances that Floridians deserve in the United States Senate. Governor Crist is a dedicated public servant and a dynamic leader, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee will provide our full support to ensure that he is elected the next United States Senator from Florida.”