Monday, July 19, 2010

Passion of the Crist

Florida Governor Charlie Crist is in an interesting position these days.

The saga is a strange, yet common one. The popular moderate Republican governor, after his first term, decided that he was going go throw his name in for Florida's open Senate seat, vacated after former Republican Mel Martinez decided to retire. Crist led in the polls for quite a long time, until suddenly, Marco Rubio, a former state Speaker (kind of like the head of government, instead of the Speaker we have here) and Tea Party darling came out of nowhere, gobbled up support, and forced Crist out of the race.

But it doesn't end there. Instead of simply dropping out, Crist opted to run for the Senate as an Independent candidate. Rubio of course got the GOP nod, while the Democrats have yet to decide which candidate they want: Congressman Kendrick Meek or businessman Jeff Greene. Many expected Crist to not present much of a challenge to Rubio, though possibly taking second place.

But, low and behold, Crist has now led in several polls, and FiveThirtyEight.com has put the chances of Crist's take-over at 58% - no small feat for an Independent.

But a much more interesting, and telling, poll is one done recently by Public Policy Polling - commonly known as PPP, which showed that if Crist was elected Senator, 55% would want him to caucus (sit with) with the Democrats, over 22% that want him to caucus with the Republicans - a paradoxical position for a former Republican.

Crist would be important though, if the Senate forecasts for the Democrats are true - and they're all pretty gloomy. While people don't expect them to lose control of the Senate, they will probably end up losing about 6 or 8 seats, dropping them to 52-54, leaving the GOP in control of 45-47, not including Crist.

With Crist there, the Democrats could have control of 53-55 seats. With the support of Scott Brown, Susan Collins, and Olympia Snowe, they could have 56-58. That would leave them two to four seats short of a "supermajority," and they could possibly get it with a few other moderates in the Senate - not a bad position to be in, at all.

Crist now holds more potential than he ever would have as a simple Republican Senator - as an Independent, he could turn the tables in any direction he wants, and with the right set of circumstances, end up being the Chuck Cadman of the US Senate.

Interesting times down south, for sure.

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