1:36 PM, Jun 21, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
A new Chamber of Commerce poll gives Charlie Crist his biggest lead yet since declaring as an independent in the Florida Senate race: Crist takes "42 percent of the vote to Rubio’s 31 percent. Another 14 percent favor Democratic candidate Kendrick Meek, and 12 percent still undecided." According to the RealClearPolitics average of polls, Crist has a 4.8% lead over Rubio. (Crist has been ahead of Rubio in four of the past five polls; they were tied in one).
9:06 AM, May 5, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
It was only a question of when. Bush's endorsement should help chip away at some of Crist's remaining support among Republicans.
From the Rubio campaign:
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush today endorsed Marco Rubio for U.S. Senate. The two will campaign together for the first time this Friday night at the Pasco County Reagan Day Dinner.
9:43 AM, Apr 29, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman John Cornyn said this morning that the Florida Republican primary between Marco Rubio and Charlie Crist has been "a learning experience" for him.
Cornyn told reporters at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor that he first tried to recruit Jeb Bush to run for Senate. When Bush declined, Cornyn looked for the next most popular Republican (Crist) in the state to run. The lesson he's learned from the NRSC's endorsement of Crist?
"In this political environment," Cornyn said, "it's not necessarily helpful for candidates running in the states to have the national party chairman" endorse them.
Hmmmmm.10:12 PM, Apr 28, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
Marc Ambinder reports:
Charlie Crist, soon to be independent Senate candidate from Florida, tried to reach White House chief of staff Emanuel through intermediates. WH refuses to take the call. Dems plan big talent/money blitz for Kendrick Meek.
What's Crist up to? Might he be interested in cutting a deal to caucus with the Democrats if they chase Meek from the field?
1:01 PM, Apr 28, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
One year to the day after Arlen Specter became a Democrat, Fox News reports:
Fox News has learned that Charlie Crist has decided and plans to announce that he is running as an Independent for the U.S. Senate. The official announcement is scheduled at 5pm in St. Petersburg, Florida tomorrow.
1:51 PM, Apr 20, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
The St. Petersburg Times reports:
Dodging raindrops outside the historic Old Capitol, Gov. Charlie Crist also deftly dodged the daily round of questions about whether he would seek a U.S. Senate seat as an unaffiliated candidate. "Things change," Crist said when asked how he'd explain a no-party bid after repeatedly saying he would not do so.
10:49 AM, Apr 19, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
The St. Pete Times reports:
The Marco Rubio campaign says Charlie Crist has halted all its TV advertising in the Orlando and Tampa Bay markets where the anti-Rubio spots were airing.
10:15 AM, Apr 15, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
If Crist were to file as an independent for the general election, he would get 32 percent of the vote, compared to Rubio's 30 percent and Meek's 24 percent.
This may be enough to convince Charlie Crist to break his pledge to run in the GOP primary, but Rasmussen showed a much tougher race for Crist as an independent. In a March three-way match-up, Rubio led Crist 42% to 22%, with Democrat Meek garnering 25% of the vote.
So why the big disparity between Rasmussen and Quinnipiac? Did Crist's negative advertising move Rubio's numbers among the general electorate in the past month?
An implausible defense.4:39 PM, Apr 14, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
From the Wall Street Journal, Crist's advisers lay out how the governor could run as an independent:
–The governor would retain his personal Republican Party registration, thus fulfilling the promise that he would be “running as a Republican.” He could describe himself as a “Republican independent” while appearing on the November ballot as “no party affiliation.”
–He would note that the strong denial came from his campaign manager, not him.
But in the Fox News Sunday debate, Crist himself said he would back Rubio if he lost the primary:
WALLACE: Will you support the winner of the GOP primary, whether it's you or Marco Rubio?
CRIST: Of course I will. Of course I will. ...
WALLACE: I just want to say, though, you are saying you are going to run in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate. You will not run on the no party affiliation line.
CRIST: That's right. That's right. That's what I'm saying.
10:48 AM, Apr 14, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
The Wall Street Journal reports:
Florida law doesn't give Mr. Crist the flexibility that enabled Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut to win election in 2006 as a third-party candidate after losing the Democratic primary. Mr. Crist must decide by April 30 whether to seek the Republican nomination or to appear instead on the general-election ballot with no party affiliation.
An important sign of Mr. Crist's aims could come this week: He must decide by Friday whether to veto a teacher merit-pay bill supported by prominent conservatives in the party.
"If you were to put a gun to my head, I'd say he's running as an independent," said a GOP strategist who serves as an informal adviser to the governor.
Charlie Crist is losing the Republican primary by 30 points. He is losing a three-way race by 20 points. Does he really want to make a career-ending run as an independent?
As I wrote the other day, Crist's third option would be to pull out of the race and live to run as a Republican another day. A reader emailed to point out that although Crist can't beat Rubio by spending the massive $7.5 million war chest he's built up--or even twice that much--he can keep almost all of it if he opts for a 2012 run: