Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Crist In the Race

As expected, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist announced that he is going to run for the Senate.

In a news release from the Republican Party of Florida e-mailed at 9:12 a.m., Gov. Charlie Crist confirmed the worst-kept secret in Florida politics: He’ll run for the seat to be vacated by the retiring U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez.

”Here in Florida, we’ve shown that when we put people first and work together, much can be accomplished, and I intend to bring that same approach to Washington,” Crist said. ”That is why, after thoughtful consideration with my wife Carole, I have decided to run for the U.S. Senate.”

He’s going to face a primary challenge from former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio. Despite the fact that Mr. Rubio is farther to the right of Mr. Crist and that Mr. Crist not only endorsed President Obama’s stimulus package but appeared on stage with him at a pep rally for it, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, headed by Texas Sen. John Cornyn, is endorsing the governor.

”While I believe Marco Rubio has a very bright future within the Republican Party, Charlie Crist is the best candidate in 2010 to ensure that we maintain the checks and balances that Floridians deserve in the United States Senate,” said Texas Sen. John Cornyn, chairman of the NRSC.

That’s a polite way of saying to Mr. Rubio, “you’re a nice young rightie, but Charlie Crist has popularity numbers you can only dream of, and chances are you’d get creamed in the general election running against Teddy the Wonder Lizard if he ran as a Democrat.”

The Democratic contenders appear to be boiling down to Rep. Kendrick Meek and State Sen. Dan Gelber. Mr. Meek has already built up a substantial war chest and rounded up some high-profile backers here in Miami-Dade County, and I’m pretty sure that if he gets the nod in the primary, President Obama will drop in for a visit.

On the next level, who will replace Crist in the governor’s mansion? A lot of names are being tossed around, but the ones that pop up the most are State Chief Financial Director Alex Sink for the Democrats and Attorney General Bill McCollum for the GOP. Ms. Sink has previously indicated that she’s not interested in running for governor, but that could change now. Mr. McCollum, who is a perpetual candidate for office, is perhaps best remembered for being one of the impeachment managers when he was in Congress in the 1990’s and managed to get his bespectacled mug on TV a lot, earnestly pursuing the evils of presidential fellatio. He’s most recently made another appearance here on public service ads warning parents about the evils that the internet poses for children. It was a thinly-veiled campaign ad for his run for the governorship, and a lot of his fellow Republicans cried foul.

Let the games begin.