Monday, June 7, 2010

Leaning Left

TPM reports that while Gov. Charlie Crist may be an Independent, his new media team on his Senate primary campaign has worked for moderate to liberal Democrats in the past.

Crist’s campaign has signed up the firm of SKD Knickerbocker, with co-founder Josh Isay becoming Crist’s lead media consultant. From the Crist campaign’s press release: “SKD Knickerbocker is one of the nation’s leading political consulting firms. Clients have included Democratic Senators, Governors and Mayors from across the country. The firm is also a leader in electing Independent candidates including Senator Joe Lieberman and NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg. SKD Knickerbocker has worked on the campaigns of the last 4 Democratic Presidential nominees.”

Roll Call points out that Isay is also a former chief of staff to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and the St. Petersburg Times lists other clients including Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN), Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) and Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV).

The conventional wisdom is that Mr. Crist is trying to horn in on the Democrats who either haven’t heard of Kendrick Meek, the putative leader in the Democratic primary or think that Jeff Greene, the billionaire who jumped into the race a couple of weeks ago is either too new or just a tad out of the mainstream (he’s running ads with his mom giving him a testimonial) for their taste.

I think Mr. Crist is a closet Democrat and hasn’t got the guts to just come out and say it. (Of course, no one is really sure that the Democrats would want him.) It may be because at the state level being a Democrat in Florida nowadays gets you nowhere; the GOP dominates the legislature to the point that even if we elect a Democrat as governor, it won’t change the make-up of the statehouse. On the federal level, however, Florida has sent its share of Democrats to the House and Senate (although Bill Nelson hardly qualifies as a liberal Democrat; he and his fellow Nelson in the Senate — the one from Nebraska — seem to be cut from nearly the same cloth). It looks like Mr. Crist is planning to run as the sensible choice in the race, playing off the fear of the state sending Marco Rubio, a Tea Party ideologue, or a relatively unknown Democrat to Washington. The most recent poll (May 14) has Crist with a slight lead.