Crist wouldn’t be where he is today without RPOF, former chairman saysby Dara Kam | April 23rd, 2010
Gov. Charlie Crist wouldn’t be the political superstar he is today without the state GOP’s support, former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Al Cardenas said.
Cardenas took over as the head of the RPOF shortly after Crist made his first U.S. Senate bid in 1998. Incumbent U.S. Bob Graham trounced Crist in that race. Two years later, Crist ran for education commissioner and won with 54 percent of the vote.
“When he was given an opportunity to rebuild his political career, the party almost single-handedly funded his campaign for commissioner of education and revived his career,” Cardenas said. “He’s done very well on his own efforts but never independent of what the party’s been able to do for him.”
Based on the RPOF’s assistance to Crist in each of his campaigns, Cardenas said, Crist ought to “either stay in the process and try to win the primary or do what Mitt Romney and Ronald Reagan and George Bush and everybody else has done who didn’t win the nomination and support the ticket.”
Florida candidates owe fealty to their parties, Cardenas said.
“There are some states where elected officials do their own thing and the party is not very active and there are others where a majority status has been built on the shoulders of thousands of donors and contributors,” he explained. “We happen to be the type of state where the party literally jump-starts people’s careers. When you live in that environment, you have to have a different loyalty approach to the party.”