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Crist in Conservative Crosshairs?

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Following a successful campaign by conservative Republicans to oust a moderate candidate from an upstate New York congressional race, operatives appear to be targeting Florida governor Charlie Crist, who hopes to win his party's nomination for a U.S. Senate seat in 2010.

The Florida primary offers some similarities to the race in New York's congressional district 23, where Dede Scozzafava, a Republican who supports marriage equality and abortion rights, dropped her bid after boldfaced names such as Sarah Palin backed the Conservative Party candidate, Douglas Hoffman. Hoffman lost the race on Tuesday to Democrat Bill Owens.

While Crist, long the subject of gay rumors, as depicted in the documentary Outrage, does not support marriage equality, he does bring a more moderate record overall than his opponent, former Florida house speaker, Marco Rubio, according to the Gainesville Sun.

"The race has attracted national attention for pitting Crist, a moderate on some issues who is supported by party leaders in Washington, against Rubio, a hard-line conservative backed by radio hosts and party activists," reported the Gainesville Sun.

As in New York, the effort could backfire for Republicans, given that Crist polls more favorably in a statewide election.

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