Former Florida House Majority Leader Adam Hasner officially announced his candidacy for the Senate last night. The race will pit him against Democrat incumbent Bill Nelson, former senator George LeMieux, and state Senate President Mike Haridopolos.
The early stages of Hasner’s race have been a contest between him and LeMieux to prove which of them is the “true conservative” in the race. I could watch a contest like that all day. Hasner can boast of endorsements from Red State’s Erick Erickson and popular radio host Mark Levin.
In a media conference call, Hasner accused LeMieux of recycling attacks from the Charlie Crist campaign, an event not fondly remembered by Florida conservatives. He tied Crist and LeMieux together, saying “Every time the Crist campaign broke with conservative policy, it was at the direction of George LeMieux.”
By contrast, Hasner declares himself a proud conservative who doesn’t have to “reinvent himself” to run in 2012: “Leadership comes from being comfortable with who you are.” He noted his strong opposition to items such as a cigarette tax, funding for cameras at stop lights, and a prescription drug database, even though they would later find their way into a budget he voted for. Certainly voting “yes” for a massive budget filled with little surprises does not convey approval of every line item… provided the candidate can demonstrate his consistent opposition to those items. Hasner sees consistency as the glue that will hold his campaign together.
Those handicapping the Florida race point to Hasner’s lack of name recognition as his greatest obstacle. He thinks he can overcome this obstacle in an election where “more people are paying attention than ever before.”
He’s a great believer in the power of grassroots conservatives and the Tea Party, noting their pivotal role in the rise of freshman Florida Senator Marco Rubio. Hasner strongly identifies with Rubio, sharing his position on such hot-button issues as raising the federal debt ceiling. Hasner is adamantly opposed to raising it without iron-clad controls against debt and spending, including a Balanced Budget Amendment with “real teeth,” such as the one championed by Senator Mike Lee of Utah. He also believes the time has come to “take the first steps to real entitlement reform,” calling the debt ceiling battle “a line in the sand moment” for conservatives.
Hasner trails in the polls, with most putting him five points behind LeMieux and a dozen or more behind the incumbent Senator Nelson. The race is young, and it’s hard to deny the conservative electorate is responding to candidates that demonstrate real passion and commitment.
The St. Petersburg Times once noted that “Democratic strategists perceive [Hasner] as a serious general election threat: an extreme right-winger who comes off as perfectly reasonable.” May those strategists find themselves awash in a sea of such remarkable creatures in 2012. Adam Hasner sounds like someone who really enjoys being a serious threat.
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