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Charlie Crist’s final 24 hours as a Republican

in Statewide by

Alex Leary of the St. Petersburg Times provides a behind-the-scenes look of Charlie Crist’s last 24 hours as a Republican:

Gov. Charlie Crist pushes back from his desk at the Capitol, slides off tortoiseshell reading glasses and flips open a cell phone. “Hey buddy,” he says, “any knowledge?”

Crist is eager for news from his pollster. Taken two days before, the survey shows him winning a three-way race for U.S. Senate.

The moment — 11:12 a.m. Wednesday — solidifies Crist’s decision to run as an independent, a stunning repudiation of his lifelong union with the Republican Party.

The governor paces amid his office of wood paneling, white and crimson drapes, miniature bust of Ronald Reagan and desk plaque reading You CAN do it! — alone except for a St. Petersburg Times reporter allowed to shadow him in the most critical time of his political career.

The poll, as Crist phrases it, “put some science behind” two weeks of encouragement from regular folks and big-name friends like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Donald Trump that he is making the right move.

Validating his decision, he spends the day not huddling with strategists or in deep reflection, but soliciting advice from those around him and unleashing a calculated, almost comical array of references to “the people.”

It’s a platitude that must now come through in a very real way.

Crist, 53, seems at once isolated and relaxed as he embarks on his final 24 hours as a Republican. Continue reading here.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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