FL-Sen: Crist Will Run as an Independent

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”.

69 thoughts on “FL-Sen: Crist Will Run as an Independent”

  1. is who is he gonna caucus with if he’s elected?

    Now, Kendrick Meek needs to get a lawn sign in front of every Florida house he can. These are exciting times!

  2. race will all come down to who ends up supporting Crist. Will it be moderates who usually vote for the Dems or moderates who usually vote for the GOP. Unfortunately I see Crist winning those who consider themselves to be “true” independents without a clear partisan voting record and Independents who normally vote Democrat.  

  3. to introduce himself. The only way Crist can win is if he gets considerable Democratic support. So it’s important to prevent that from happening.

    In a 3-way race like this, my sense is that Meek should tie himself to the President and other popular Democrats, and project an image of plausibility. If he can stabilize himself around 45%, he’ll win.  

  4. a fall! Not that sorry for him though. I’m still not sure if this is a good thing for us or not. Meh, I do at least know it will be fun to watch.  

  5. http://politicalticker.blogs.c

    Gov. Charlie Crist’s decision announcement Thursday that he will run for Senate as an unaffiliated candidate means that his name will be placed beneath at least eight others on Florida’s general election ballot in November.

    Could definitely make a difference in a close race.  For comparison anyone know where Lieberman’s name was?

  6. Polls have generally shown Meek behind Rubio, generally from high single digits to mid double digits, and being a little close to Crist as a Republican. For the threeways, Meek is almost always in 3rd place and Rubio in first with double digits separating Rubio and Meek and Crist in second in low to high single digits of Rubio.

    I guess an Indy’s Crist’s main constituency would be independent voters but I think there is little chance of him getting votes from even moderate Republicans. Rather Crist needs to take a significant amount of Democratic voters in addition to a plurality of independents in order to win, and as I said before, I believe that Democrats are significantly more likely to to Crist than Republicans are.

    Meek has done a surprisingly good job so far but he is way too low profile, he is going to need to up his profile significantly in order to prevent Rubio from taking too much of the Democratic vote. In particular he needs to get out of third place in the polls or national Dems are just going to ignore him because in a tough year u try to hold defense rather than go on offense.

  7. Not that this comes as much of a surprise, but I suspect that there’s a lot of personal animosity between Crist and Rubio; I think that Crist thought he was entitled to the seat, and Rubio took it away.

    My point is that I think has the personal and political incentive to go after Rubio; the political incentive is to get back a portion of the GOP electorate that supported him previously.

    At this point, it’s a pure tossup, but I feel very optimistic about Meek’s chances right now.


    I’m going out and buying some Pop Secret.  

  8. … IMO this country sorely needs a centrist political party. I would not be disappointed if Crist manages to win

  9.       Although I still think unfortunately Rubio is still the favorite, but since it’s a three way race anything can happen. God it’s amazing how fast things can change in politics. Two years ago Crist was the kingmaker who helped Mccain get the nomination in Florida. Now, if he doesn’t win this his career is over. I do think he made a mistake running for the senate instead of reelection for governor. His approval ratings went down, but compared to some other governors he was still reasonably popular. Although I wonder if Rubio would have challenged him in a primary for that as well.  

  10. Meek just does not impress me. Most people, even the pundits on TV, still cannot get his name right.

    He’s either got an amazing grassroots organization that no one outside of FL knows of, or he’s simply not catching on with anyone.

    Yes, he’s got the support of President Clinton, which brings a lot.

    However, if Clinton didn’t come out early on with the fundraiser, would Meek really be taken credibly?

    I know Wasserman-Schultz is very liberal, but I’d consider her stronger than Meek, even statewide. Boyd might be too conservative for a Democrat statewide, but I think he’d do better as well.

    Am I the only one who feels this way?

    Meek has been in the race for months now, and he’s yet to really do anything (that I know of).

    With Crist now running as an Indy, it just seems to me that Meek will end up in third.

  11. Ambinder:

    Read it here first: Then there were FOUR. Billionaire Jeff Greene will enter FL SEN race tomorrow as a Democrat … expect a paper statement. Life story: he came from nothing. Self-made man. Created jobs. Made a difference. (He also shorted sub-primes …) It’s been previously reported that Net pioneer/ex-Dean manager Joe Trippi and Bloomberg and pollster Doug Schoen have been informally advising Greene.

    Another Democrat in the FL-Sen race is the last thing we need.

  12. Had he done it months ago, he might have been able to look more principled and less desperate. Or, he might have gone all the way to Democratic and tacked further to the left, though I guess that would have been politically harder. Anyway, I doubt he’ll win this way, but apparently, he thinks he can.

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