Independent Charlie Crist Will Be Fun to Watch
You've never seen such fuming, whining and grinding of capped teeth. And that's not from voters -- that's from Republican leaders, who are pitching a hissy fit.
They want the governor to shut up and go away, but he's not playing ball. They want him to yield the stage to
It's going to be messy, occasionally vicious and, for spectators, immensely entertaining.
Some pollsters say Crist has a dead-even chance of beating Rubio and Democrat
At a time when people across the political spectrum seem disgusted by partisan animosities, a candidate who turns his back on both parties could prove appealing.
Not so long ago, the governor was their golden boy, and not just because of his trademark tan. Most of the party's top dogs were singing his praises for the
But try as he might -- and at times it was pathetic to watch -- Crist just couldn't swerve hard enough to the right. His belated bashing of President Obama sounded halfhearted compared with the spittle-flecked ravings on
The governor is famous for tacking with the political breeze, but even he couldn't pull off a convincing ideological swoop to ultraconservatism.
That's the irreconcilable problem: Crist is a moderate in a party whose leaders no longer tolerate it.
Always distrustful of him, Republican screamers officially turned on the governor after he accepted federal stimulus benefits. In a state suffering from brutal unemployment and epidemic home foreclosures, only a moron would have turned down the money.
They're still trying to crucify him for supporting the stimulus, a line of attack that will be increasingly risky as the economy turns around.
At this point, Crist has nothing to lose by running for the
Crist is more affable than Lieberman, and owns a keener instinct for well-timed drama. His recent veto of the controversial Republican education bill, which would have tied teacher salaries to student test scores, made the front page of the
The legislation was vehemently opposed by
More significantly, it enhanced his national branding as a "mavericky" kind of guy, to steal from
Now Charlie is sitting up in
The irony is ripe. The same gang that's been leaning on Crist to leave the
Although he trails Rubio badly in the contest for the Republican primary, he's not nearly so unpopular among other voters. If Meek fails to mount a compelling race -- and early polls suggest he will struggle -- some Democrats are bound to shy away and cast their ballots for Crist.
Still, a trip to
You'll see at least four Rubio commercials for every one that Crist can afford.
Meanwhile, all the big Republican guns, from
He won't have the cash or the endorsements that his opponents do, but he'll have one thing they don't have: the governorship. If, as predicted,
No matter what happens in the November election, the
How could that not be fun to watch?
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Independent Charlie Crist Will Be Fun to Watch
(c) 2010 Carl Hiaasen