Leaders of the Republican Party are optimistic that popular Florida Gov. Charlie Christ will run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., in 2010.
"All the signals I've been getting is that he probably will,” John Cornyn, R-Texas, tells Politico. “But I don't want to make any announcements for him, because he's the one who will ultimately decide whether to pull the trigger or not."
Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, seeks a high-profile GOP candidate for the upcoming general election race to retain the seat Martinez said in December he would not seek. Cornyn won’t, however, be getting involved in the primary contest.
“I don't think it's the proper role of the NRSC or folks in Washington to try to tell Floridians who their nominee should be," he says, "so I think that will have to work its way out."
Crist, who is expected to announce his political plans next week, would face former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio in the GOP primary. Rubio, a Miami-area lawyer and conservative Republican, has been critical of Crist for supporting President Barack Obama's stimulus package. He announced his plans to run Tuesday on his campaign's Web site.
Democrats seeking the seat include U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek and state Sen. Dan Gelber, the Associated Press reports. Meek leads the field in the party primary race with $1.5 million raised in the first quarter, according to Reuters.
Former President Bill Clinton helped Meek raise funds by attending two events.
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