In the upcoming Senate race on November 2nd, 2010, the people of Florida want to know one thing; is Governor Charlie Crist running as a Republican or as an Independent? Governor Crist is engaged in the political fight of his life with Tea Party favorite, conservative Marco Rubio. Both men are currently vying for the Republican nomination for the Senate seat vacated by former Florida Senator Mel Martinez. Governor Crist appointed his former chief of staff, George LeMieux, to serve out the balance of Martinez’s term, which ends this November. Known for his moderate brand of Republicanism and populist appeal, Crist has been a well-received first-term Governor in Florida. Many believed that he would have been easily re-elected if he had chosen to run for a second term. Crist was so well regarded in Republican circles that he was on the short-list of potential running mates for Republican Presidential candidate John McCain in 2008, making him one of the national “darlings” of the Republican Party. How times have changed for Charlie Crist.
Republican Momentum for Rubio
According to several national polls, Crist is trailing the young, charismatic Marco Rubio by as many as twenty points, a dramatic turn-around from the beginning of the Senate campaign. Conservative leaders such as former Vice President Dick Cheney, Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Former Governors Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, and U.S. House Republican Whip Eric Cantor have recently come out with glowing endorsements of Rubio. A new Quinnipiac poll of 1,250 registered Republicans shows the Governor badly trailing the former Florida House Speaker in the GOP primary with only 33 percent of the vote as compared to Rubio’s 56 percent. This same poll made an additional, possibly game-changing discovery; when put into a three-way general election with Democrat Kendrick Meek and Marco Rubio, the poll shows Governor Crist ahead with 32 percent of the vote. Here in Florida, the speculation of an independent run for Crist has kicked into high gear.
Crist Distances Himself From the Florida Republican Establishment
It now appears that Crist is distancing himself from the Florida Republican Party by vetoing two key Republican-backed bills in the last month. One of the bills involved dramatic changes in how Florida teachers would be evaluated and retained, and the other bill would have allowed the creation of soft-money fundraising “leadership funds.” This legislation was high priority to the State Republican leadership, and the resulting veto led to a heightened level of tension in Tallahassee. Recently, Crist has even softened earlier statements in which he emphatically declared that he would run as a Republican.
In addition to this, The Miami Herald reported on April 3rd, “Governor Charlie Crist asked federal authorities Friday to investigate the Republican Party of Florida amid growing concerns about misspent money.” Rubio and other State Republican leaders are fending off accusations of corruption, secret deals, and misuse of Party finances that occurred during their time in the Legislature. When asked about the impending investigation, Crist said, “This thing stinks.” Needless to say, this did little to squash continued rumors and speculation about the future of Crist’s Senate campaign in our state.
Crist Must Decide
With an April 30th deadline looming, Charlie Crist must decide if he will run in the 2010 Senate race as a Republican or as an Independent. Often referred to as “The People’s Governor,” Charlie Crist will have to make this difficult decision, drawing on years of experience working in the trenches for the citizens of our state. Without the Republican Party backing, the political future of our embattled Governor relies exclusively on the will of the people of Florida. Stay tuned for the outcome.
Slush Funds- http://www.bradenton.com/2010/04/09/2191370/crists-veto-of-slush-funds-sends.html#ixzz0m3qJfGkD
Cheney Endorsement- http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/22/AR2010042203035.html
Cantor Endorsement- http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/04/20/cantor-endorses-rubio-florida-senate-race/
FL Republican Scandal