Will Charlie Crist Run as an Independent?

The beleaguered Florida Republican considers his options

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Republican Governor Charlie Crist of Florida looks likely to drop his bid for the Republican Senate nomination, owing to increasingly strong opposition from conservative challenger Marco Rubio. But rumors are swirling that he could run as a third-party candidate. Crist told a local TV station he was keeping his options open and insisted to National Review that he is staying in the race. Would Crist have a shot as the independent candidate?

  • He'll Likely Go Independent  The Weekly Standard's John McCormack is confident. "Crist has consistently been trailing Rubio by double-digits since January. But with next week's filing deadline looming now is his time for choosing. And it seems that he will very likely choose to run as an independent."
  • Crist Has Been Here Before  The Sarasota Herald-Tribune's Jeremy Wallace muses that Crist's 2006 gubernatorial race saw him in a similarly tight spot. "In April of 2006, Crist, who had once held a 10 percentage point lead over his more conservative rival Tom Gallagher, was all of a sudden up just 4 percent. In the general election, the poll showed Crist losing to Democrat Jim Davis," he writes. "As the campaign season heats up and gets into the summer, the poll numbers begin to change. In 2006, Crist’s narrow lead over Gallagher would balloon to nearly 25 percent as the television ads and stories about the race became more frequent."
  • GOP Has to Cut Him Loose  Talking Points Memo's Eric Kleefeld evaluates the situation: "the GOP is in a delicate position of having to figure out just how and when to cut him off -- with some politicians getting in early on the act." If Crist goes independent, the GOP that for years counted him as a prominent member will have to go about the nasty business of attacking him as the opposition.
  • McCain Gets Back-Stabby  Left-leaning Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall scoffs. "John McCain, whose campaign was rescued by Crist in Florida in 2008, just preemptively put out a statement pledging that he won't support Crist if he goes independent."
  • GOP Purge of Moderates Continues  Salon's Steve Kornacki shakes his head. "Since Barack Obama's inauguration, the right wing of the Republican Party has mobilized against, among others, Arlen Specter, John McCain, Bob Bennett and Charlie Crist," he writes. "Is this a purge? Absolutely. They've all been targeted for being insufficiently conservative."
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