The outgoing Florida governor’s decision to bolt the GOP, as Nick put it yesterday, has everything to do with ambition and little to do with the best interests of the Sunshine State. Oh, well, except in the mind of Charlie Crist who somehow believes that he and he alone has the capacity to represent Florida in the United States Senate.
The one-time Republican has already, tin cup in hand, reached out for support the one of the most partisan members of this Administration. Rahm Emanuel didn’t pick up.
Expect him to lose the endorsements of prominent Republicans who have previously backed him. Expect previously fence-sitting Republicans in the state, like the popular former Governor (and future presidential contender?) Jeb Bush to come out for Marcio Rubio. Crist’s fundraising was already slowing down. It may well start drying up. And some Republicans who supported the candidate when he was making a bid for the GOP nomination will be asking for their money back.
It didn’t have to come to this; Jim Geraghty looks at all the mistakes this once-popular politician made in his bid for the U.S. Senate.
With most Florida Republicans likely to rally around Rubio, it’s hard to see where Crist will draw his support. To be sure, he may still have a reservoir of good will among certain Sunshine State voters. But, will they stay with him if Marco Rubio surges in the general election matchups as he has in the Republican primary? Charlie’s only real path to victory is to push the Democratic candidate Kendrick Meek out of the race — or somehow make him irrelevant and pick up the slack among center-left voters.
A year ago, Charlie Crist was in many ways the future of the GOP, a handsome man with a winning smile and a knack for getting things done, elected on the Republican ticket in a swing state in a Democratic year. Unless he manages to eke out a victory this fall (a possibility, to be sure, but one I wouldn’t bet on), a year hence, he’ll be little more than a footnote in Florida history, a one-term governor with little prospect for higher office or national prominence.
UPDATE: Peter Wehner doesn’t mince words when commenting on Crist’s decision:
People like Charlie Crist, consumed by personal ambition and devoid of scruples about breaking their word, make the public cynical about politics. Crist will, I suspect, pay a high price for what he has done, since his motivations are so transparent and unprincipled.