UNEASY ALLY

Questioning Crist's Conservative Cred

He's popular enough among Floridians to be the new front runner in the 2010 Senate race, but is he conservative enough? That is the question dogging Republicans in the Sunshine State as they consider the candidacy of Gov. Charlie Crist. The GOP base, delicately described by Politico as "restless," is undergoing a well-publicized identity crisis as it struggles to stick to its core values without becoming irrelevant. The showdown looming between Crist and Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio in the Republican primary highlights this conflict. Rubio, a rising star with close ties to the influential Cuban-American community in Miami, has already signaled he will be taking Crist's conservative values to task, especially his controversial support for President Obama's stimulus.