Gov. Charlie Crist is facing a deadline of 12:00 noon on Friday to decide whether he will drop out of his Republican Senate primary and run as an independent. Crist says he will make the call on Thursday, but at noon on Friday, the Florida Elections Division will stop accepting paperwork for new Senate candidates.


Thankfully for Crist, it will be easy for him to get on the ballot as an independent, because he doesn't actually need any signatures to do so. Crist can register as a candidate by either 1) obtaining signatures from one percent of the registered electorate in each county across the state, a total of 112,476 signatures, or 2) paying a fee of $6,960. (Coincidentally, it's cheaper to file as an independent candidate. The fee for partisans is $10,440.)

What this means is that Crist, if he decides to run as an independent, won't have to launch a difficult, late-hour petition drive to gain enough signatures to appear on the ballot. (One percent of each county might be tough to get, even for the widely known Crist, in a 24-hour timeframe.) He can simply dip into his $7.6 million campaign war chest and pay the fee. Which means his decision can truly come at the last minute.

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