If Florida's new draft congressional maps are approved by the state legislature, Charlie Crist's chances of a political comeback start looking good.
The Republican-turned-Democrat former governor would then have the option of running for Congress on his home turf in Pinellas County, in a Republican-held district that's about to add a bunch of new Democratic voters. Though Crist lost to Gov. Rick Scott by a small margin in 2014, he handily carried his home of St. Petersburg, and Democrats think he'd be a formidable contender for Congress in a newly Democratic-leaning seat.
And GOP Rep. David Jolly has already cleared a path, deciding to run for Senate instead of defending his seat. But there is still one Republican that strategists in both parties named as the most credible potential roadblock to a Crist comeback: former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, a local political star.
"This district is almost tailor-made for only one Republican as well as one Democrat, which would make a Charlie Crist-Rick Baker square-off maybe the most looked-at congressional race in the nation in 2016," said Adam Goodman, Baker's senior political adviser. "It would truly be a clash of two titans."
Despite Crist's losing gubernatorial effort, he remains popular at home. "After a candidate runs and loses, there's a sort of bitterness towards them," said Eric Jotkoff, former communications director for the Florida Democratic Party. "With Charlie Crist, there's none of that. Rick Scott won the race by spending $100 million against him, and there's no one that has ill will based on that."