The continued hubbub over former Governor Charlie Crist’s next move is dominating political discussions on both sides of the aisle. The assumption by many is that Crist will re-register as a Democrat in upcoming weeks and run for Governor in 2014. While this is certainly possible, we are not sure whether to label this as likely. In our opinion, Crist is only 50-50 to run for Governor. Here is why:
- Running for Governor may require Crist, a newly minted Democrat to navigate through a minefield in the primary. Recent history in other states indicates that party switchers have a tough time in Democratic Primaries. Long Island Rep. Michael Forbes, a former Senate staffer of Connie Mack’s in the US Senate switched parties in 1999 and was promptly beaten in a primary. The same happened to the late Senator Arlen Specter in 2010. Liberal activists are already complaining loudly about Crist’s public role in Democratic campaigns, including that of the President.
- The President owes Crist, correct? So he could appoint Crist to a sub-cabinet or even cabinet level position. Where would Crist fit in? Something regarding consumer affairs, the environment or something else that keeps him in the Florida spotlight for 2016.
- 2016? Why 2016? Crist has made it clear he prefers the US Senate and Washington to Tallahassee. He has an opportunity to either take on Marco Rubio in a rematch of 2010 but this time wearing the Democratic banner in a Presidential year OR Rubio could very well be on the GOP ticket. Of course the Rubio-mania sweeping the Republican establishment this week is sure to fade at some point. Remember Bobby Jindal mania that was the GOP flavor of the month in November 2008?
Crist has the world at his feet right now and can make whatever decision he feels advances himself the most politically. However, running for Governor in 2014 when so many Democrats are anxious to make this race. He may be well advised to further enhance his credentials on the blue side of the aisle by sitting out the race, campaigning hard for the nominee and positioning himself for 2016. This may be even easier to do if he is appointed to an administration position.
Throughout his political career, Crist has had an impeccable sense of timing. From his shameful attacks on the late Gov. Lawton Chiles when the Republican tide in Florida politics was unmistakable to his shift to “populist” as the GOP brand was damaged. But in 2010, for the first time in his public career, Crist seemed to misjudge the political winds. His remarkable 2012 recovery made him more relevant than perhaps any other Floridian outside public office currently. The question is if Crist will make the right move with all of this newfound political capital.