It’s Independence Day for Charlie Crist:
Gov. Charlie Crist just announced to a hometown crowd that he will run for the U.S. Senate as an independent.
“My decision to run for the United States as a candidate without party affiliation in may way says more about our nation and our state than it does about me” Crist said to crowd at Straub Park, not far from his condominium, his mother, father, wife and sisters at his side.
Crist’s careful wording seemed to leave open that he would remain a Republican in party but run as an independent. “I know this is uncharted territory … and I am aware after this ends I don’t have either party helping me. … But I’m counting on you. I think we need a new tone in Washington. I know we’re doing the right thing.”
Over at the Washington Post, Chris Cillizza has a list of pertinent questions that will need to be answered soon. Most (or at least, many) of Crist’s staffers are expected to resign en masse, and it remains completely unclear from what source Crist plans to hire his staffers and consultants. Surely, any Republican firm will want to steer clear of Crist like he’s a toxic waste spill, but perhaps some Democrats could be convinced to join his team. (And, in doing so, would they themselves become pariahs in the eyes of the DSCC, who hope to see Kendrick Meek squeak out a win?)
It’s also totally unclear how Crist plans to fund his campaign. Sure, the man has $7.5M in the bank — a very good head start — but he should probably expect to have to refund a big chunk of that coin. John Cornyn and the NRSC are already on record as saying that they’ll demand their donations back. Crist probably won’t see his donations from his usual sources dry up completely, but it’s been clear ever since we saw the first quarter fundraising reports that the GOP money muscle is firmly behind Rubio after Crist got off to a furious start last year.
Needless to say, this is shaping up to be one of the most remarkable races of the cycle.
UPDATE: Crist’s polling firm, Public Opinion Strategies, has announced that they will be severing ties with his campaign.
UPDATE: With Crist setting up a volatile three-way race, SSP is changing our rating of this race from “Likely Republican” to “Tossup”.