[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/29/art.cornyn.0429.gi.jpg caption="Sen. John Cornyn said Thursday that the NRSC would ask for the money it gave to Charlie Crist’s campaign back if the Florida governor abandoned the Republican Party and ran for Senate as an independent."]Washington (CNN) - Nearly one year after Sen. John Cornyn called Florida Gov. Charlie Crist "the best candidate" in that state's Senate race, the Texas Republican and head of the party's campaign committee said Thursday the organization wants its money back should Crist announce he is running as a third-party candidate.
Cornyn, the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told reporters Thursday he will ask for the $10,000 back the committee gave Crist if, as expected, the Florida governor announces Thursday he is abandoning his GOP Senate bid in favor of an independent run. Brian Walsh, the NRSC's communications director, confirmed Cornyn's statement to CNN.
Listen: CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser and CNN's Dick Uliano take a look at the intra-party conflict among Republicans in races taking place in Florida, Texas and other places.
Cornyn also said that Crist's "future electoral prospects are irreparably damaged by his deciding now to run as an independent," according to the Washington Post.
Crist, who at one point held a wide lead over his Republican competitor, Marco Rubio, now trails the former Florida House Speaker by 23 points, according to a recent statewide poll.