That recently announced
U.S. Senate Candidate Adam Hasner (FL)
has already been attacked with what looks to be a dubious, politically motivated ethics complaint by Democrats
suggests he's seen as a serious threat to win and that one of at least two other factors may be in play.
The ethics complaint against Hasner was filed by Diana Demarest, former secretary of the Palm Beach County Democratic party. “I didn’t like Adam Hasner when he was in the Florida House. I certainly don’t want him as my senator. He’s a right-wing zealot,’’ Demarest said.
Either one of his opponents, perhaps Charlie Crist protege, George LeMieux
, is stealing a page from his mentor, co-operating with Democrats in hopes of hurting a GOP opponent to win an election, or Florida Democrats see the Tea Party-aligned Hasner as the more serious threat and are already trying to soften him up for the General election.
LeMieux was deputy attorney general when Crist was Florida AG. He masterminded the campaign that put Crist in the Governor’s Mansion. He served as Crist’s first gubernatorial chief of staff.
The latter is more likely. A Democrat calling a GOP primary candidate a "right-wing zealot" while filing a politically motivated ethics complaint, isn't much of a criticism for now; nor is it likely to hold up in November 2012. While a Conservative, Hasner has managed to repeatedly win re-election in a Democrat-controlled county. More on Hasner here
As a state representative from Democratic-controlled Palm Beach County, Adam successfully won re-election three times without ever sacrificing his bedrock conservative principles. Adam served alongside Marco Rubio for six years, and in 2007 was tapped by then-Speaker Rubio to serve as Majority Leader for the Republican caucus.
When asked how he consistently achieved re-election under the circumstances, Hasner cited the need for aggressive, effective communication of his principled conservativism, even to moderates, during a recent one-on-one phone interview. With the nation, including Florida, shifting somewhat Right in 2010 and a GOP base increasingly convinced that accomplished conservatives can win espousing their ideology, as opposed to running away from it, Hasner's message has a good chance of resonating with Florida Republicans in the primary.
Hasner has released a ten point pledge
early in his candidacy, recently announced
on the Mark Levin Radio Show.
This pledge is only the foundation of our campaign and the principles on which we'll build a platform of solutions in the coming weeks and months. I look forward to having a conversation with all Floridians about the ideas we need to confront our nation's challenges.
Given Hasner's connection to one of the U.S. Senate's new rising conservative stars, Marco Rubio, who hand-picked Hasner as Majority Leader when they served together in the Florida House, Hasner appears positioned very well as he enters the primary. Hasner's wife Jillian is a former Jeb Bush aide.
With Connie Mack opting out of the race and Hasner catching on early with the GOP's more activist conservative base
, like Rubio, he may well emerge as the anti-establishment conservative choice with enough history in GOP politics to soothe any establishment concerns.
Republicans are bracing for a tough 2012 U.S. Senate primary pitting such political heavyweights as a former U.S. senator, a sitting Florida Senate president and the congressman son of a Republican icon.
But to hear a growing number of Republican activists tell it, the candidate to watch is a fellow few Floridians have heard of.
"Absolutely — it's Adam Hasner," said Nancy McGowan, a prominent conservative activist and fundraiser from Jacksonville. "A primary for the most part is determined by the grass roots who look for the leadership they like, and people know Adam as someone who understands public policy, is a tenacious fighter and has the moral courage of his convictions."
Given opponent George LeMieux's close ties to turn-coat Charlie Crist and a less than perfect voting record
while in the Senate as a Crist appointee, LeMieux may have trouble catching on with GOP primary voters. Another contender, Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos has been presumed to have a fund raising edge on Hasner; however, his record may give him trouble
with today's GOP base, as well. What remains to be seen is if Hasner can repeat the magic that carried Marco Rubio from Florida to the U.S. Senate in 2010.
In that Rubio-Crist primary and other Republican races in 2010, conservative credentials were critical. Conservative purity is a key factor again in 2012, and some prospective Republican Senate candidates have specific challenges and some serious blemishes.
For example, in 2009, Haridopolos voted to increase taxes and fees by more than $2 billion, including a $1 surcharge on every pack of cigarettes. In voting for the tax and fee increases, he violated a signed pledge to the group, Americans for Tax Reform, that he would oppose any and all tax increases.