Sen. John Cornyn said today he expects a flood of GOP donors to ask Florida Gov. Charlie Crist to refund contributions they made to his Senate campaign — and he’ll request his cash back too.
“I will request the money that I’ve donated to his campaign from my leadership PAC back,” Cornyn told reporters at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.
Cornyn (R-TX) gave Crist $10,000 when he recruited the governor to run in 2009. He’s chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which today will reverse course and back former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio for the general election. The NRSC also will request the $10,000 back the NRSC gave.
Cornyn said his prediction is that Crist’s bank account will quickly be depleted and he’ll have a hard time raising money as an independent after the GOP unifies behind Rubio. He said the NRSC is fully expecting a Rubio victory over Crist and Rep. Kendrick Meek (D) this fall.
It’s been a “breathtaking change of circumstances.”
When reporters first asked about the Crist news, Cornyn said party primaries “are good for culling the weak from the strong.”
He said that he and Crist have played a long game of phone tag and “quite honestly I’ve given up.” He said that if Crist “really wanted to talk to me” he would have made sure they connected via phone.
He said he has “communicated in the strongest terms I know” through various Crist channels that it’s a “mistake” for Crist to leave the GOP. He’d prefer Crist stay in the race or drop out entirely and wait to challenge Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) in 2012 when bigger voter turnout for a presidential election might be a more forgiving electorate.
But obviously Crist isn’t listening. “He’s a smart guy he can see what his choices are,” he said.
Cornyn admitted that endorsing Crist so early in the process when Rubio was a figure in the distance was a bad idea in hindsight (he’s been lamenting the endorsement for months) and said he’s realized that “it’s not necessarily helpful” for statewide candidates to be endorsed by the national chairman in an anti-establishment political environment.
“It’s been a learning experience,” Cornyn said.