Florida feud?

FLORIDA FEUD?…. Florida’s electoral significance is pretty obvious, so it’s curious that the state’s Republican Party establishment seems to be deeply at odds with the McCain campaign. It has the potential to be a rather consequential rift.

The Orlando Sentinel reported over the weekend that there’s “a growing discontent” among Florida Republican leaders, many of whom believe McCain took the state for granted from the start.

“My question would be, ‘What campaign?’ I just don’t see one,” said Bill Negron, an Orlando member of McCain’s regional Hispanic steering committee. “To me, it looks like people are working hard to ensure that McCain doesn’t get elected.”

Those are dangerous words for any candidate. Once doubt infects a campaign — once the faithful start grumbling — it can spread like the plague…. One who has advised the McCain organization called it the “most poorly run presidential campaign of the last 25 years. It’s truly Dukakis-like,” referring to the hapless 1988 campaign of Democrat Michael Dukakis.

“They have absolutely no strategy for winning,” said the veteran operative, who did not want to be identified criticizing a candidate he supports. “I see … no rhyme or reason to this campaign or its scheduling or its planning.”

How bad is it? The St. Petersburg Times reported yesterday that Florida Republican Party officials “announced to their state executive committee Saturday that they expect to carry over at least $2-million into 2009, rather than spend all their money on this election.”

And what about Florida Gov. Charlie Crist? Last week, he contradicted the McCain campaign message and announced his belief that Republican ACORN complaints are unfounded. This, after Crist has been noticeably reluctant to go all out in Florida in support of McCain’s effort.

Crist was asked over the weekend why he hasn’t appeared in any McCain campaign television or radio ads in the state. ”I haven’t been asked,” Crist responded.

It’s possible all of this won’t matter. Even Republican voters may not care if there’s a rift between the state party and the party’s presidential candidate.

But given Florida’s significance, the closeness of the polls in the state, it’s just one more hurdle for the McCain campaign to try to clear.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.