Such are the cruelties and vagaries of life that, only in his passing, is Bill McBride able to accomplish something he was not able to do while alive: control the pace of a Florida gubernatorial race.
It might be macabre to say so, but that is what has happened in the wake of the death of McBride, the 2002 Democratic candidate for governor. Whereas a month ago former Gov. Charlie Crist was prompting the most intense of speculation as to when — not if — he would file to run for governor and Alex Sink, who ran unsuccessfully in 2010 as the Democratic gubernatorial candidate against Rick Scott, was forced to adjust to whatever timetable she might have had to in order to keep up with Crist, a moment of pause has set in that may push back any announcement from Crist or Sink until the spring, if not summer.
First of all, Sink deserves as much time as she needs to make any decisions about her political future. I won’t pretend to know what’s going on in her world other than to say, obviously, McBride was more than just a husband to her. He was a political partner and de facto running mate. It goes without saying that she won’t be making any decisions in the near future, as she takes time to care for her family and settle McBride’s affairs.
If you read the Associated Press’ most recent profile of Sink, she, understandably, does not sound like someone interested in running for elected office.
“Right this minute, if you’re asking me, it’s off the table,” Sink said. “I’m not prepared to say, `No I’m not,’ but I’m much further away from a run today than I was three months ago.”
I am sorry to have to write this, but the last place that poor, noble soul needs to be is on the campaign trail. Alex Sink is grieving. Alex Sink is hurting.
“Without a husband, without the person that I relied on the most to shore me up and give me good advice. That’s changed. That’s changed everything,” Sink said.
If Sink decides not to run, this would remove the most formidable obstacle to Crist’s winning the Democratic nomination, although Sink believes a Crist vs. Scott race will be a “disaster.”
Speaking of Crist, he could benefit from this moment of pause.
In the space of six months, Crist has spoken to the Democratic National Committee, helped President Barack Obama win Florida, switched parties to become a Democrat and taken the lead over Sink in the latest poll of Democratic primary voters. What more does he need to accomplish before 2014? Not much. In fact, if there is a concern in Crist-world, it is that the frenetic pace and hyperventilating speculation were threatening to derail a prospective Crist comeback. Now, Crist has an extra month or two or three to burnish his Democratic credentials and flesh out his positions on progressive issues, such as gay marriage.
Crist could also use the time to get past some of the most recent headlines, which have not been positive. The specter of the trial of former Florida Republican chair Jim Greer promised to sully Governor Sunshine’s reputation. And then there is the tabloid trash about Crist’s wife, and her ongoing custody battles with her ex-husband.
Fortunately for Crist, he doesn’t have to make his move until after Sink makes hers. In the meantime, Crist can just loom over Florida politics, as he has for the better part of the last year.
Regardless of what they decide to do, both Sink and Crist have time on their side. After all, it’s not like Rick Scott’s getting any more popular.