The next Marco Rubio? Meet Adam Hasner

Amanda Carey | Contributor

Adam Hasner was born in Brooklyn, New York to two Jewish, lifelong Democrats who also happened to be public school teachers. Yet in the 2012 race for U.S. Senate in Florida, Hasner is running as the “authentic” conservative.

While he may cause the most die-hard Republicans to do a double-take to make sure someone with his Democratic pedigree is truly devoted to limited government and free markets, Hasner swears he’s as genuine as they come.

“When I say I’m an authentic conservative, it’s because when you look at who I am and where I come from, it’d be a lot easier to have grown up a Democrat,” Hasner said in an interview with The Daily Caller. Despite that, Hasner attributes his conservatism to the fact that he “came of age during the time of Ronald Reagan.”

“Right now we need more Republicans who are not only prepared to take on Democrats, but take on Republicans when they stray,” Hasner told TheDC. “I don’t blame just Democrats for the problems we face today,” he explained. “I think Republican share in blame. That’s why we need leaders in Washington who will have courage to challenge both Democrats and Republicans.”

It’s an attitude that Hasner said goes back to his days in the Florida legislature, where he served for eight years (during which time he was handpicked by Marco Rubio to serve as majority leader of the Florida House from 2007-2010). “Even when [Governor Charlie] Crist and others from the moderate wing said the best way to beat Democrats was to join them, I was standing firm on principle saying Republicans don’t need to be less partisan,” Hasner said.

If he makes it to Washington, Hasner said he will be a strong advocate of passing a balanced budget amendment, as well as term limits (he was term limited out of the state House). He has, in fact, already pledged to only serve two terms in the U.S. Senate should be get elected in 2012.

He also thinks the birther issue is a sideshow. “I operate under the belief that President Obama was born in this country,” said Hasner. “I think this has become a distraction, primarily instigated by the left and by some in the media.”

But while the Florida Republican Senate primary will likely prove to be a tough one, Hasner already appears to have the some early advantages over the current field. So far, that field includes former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, who was appointed to the Senate by former Republican-turned-independent Gov. Charlie Crist to fill the seat vacated by Mel Martinez in 2009, and state Senate President Mike Haridopolos.

But Haridopolos has a number of political troubles – not the least of which is a much-scrutinized $152,000 book deal he received from Brevard Community College. The deal has been heavily scrutinized because it was funded by taxpayer money and Haridopolos’ book – “Florida History & Legislative Processes” – has been described as “third rate.”

George LeMieux’s candidacy is tainted by his association with Crist, who lost his Senate bid in 2010 to Marco Rubio. Before being appointed to the Senate, LeMieux served as Crist’s chief of staff and ran his campaign for governor.

But Hasner has some previous actions to account for as well. In 2008, he co-sponsored a bill that required legislative approval for the establishment of a cap and trade program in Florida. The bill in question, however, still left in the mechanism for setting up a cap and trade system but Hasner supporters claim his work actually prevented more expansive environmental legislation.  Yet he’s also a former proponent of high-speed rail, and he supported accepting federal money in 2009 for a rail system in central Florida. When newly-elected Republican Gov. Rick Scott announced he was rejecting the money, however, Hasner changed his tune.

Hasner, who happens to count Scott as a close friend, appears to be planning to highlight his Rubio connection in his run for Senate, and cast himself as the conservative star’s protégé. He doesn’t want to have to rely on a Tea Party wave, however, to propel him into office in 2012.

“2010 was the initial wave,” said Hasner. “But it’s clear there’s still so much work that needs to be done. 2012 is going to the time to send reinforcements to Washington.”

When asked about the 2012 presidential campaign, Hasner declined to say who he would support in the Republican primary, but did admit that his ideal candidate would be former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. “If Jeb announced, he would have my support in the primary,” said Hasner. “Other than that, my time and energy and focus will be campaigning to defeat Bill Nelson in 2012.”

A source close to Hasner’s campaign told The Daily Caller that Hasner is in the midst of staffing up his official campaign. “He’s starting late so he’s doing a bit of catch-up,” said the source. “Cleta Mitchell, an attorney at the D.C.-based Foley & Lardner LLP, was one of the first to sign on. “He’s got a strong kitchen cabinet, and I think once his team is finalized it will be top notch.”

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