If you are Kendrick Meek, that’s not pretty. And Gov. Charlie Crist has deftly (if cynically) moved left to stake out the left of center in his indy bid in this three-way race. In the past few weeks alone, he has vetoed a GOP attempt to break the teacher’s union in Florida, decided to oppose offshore drilling after supporting it, is likely to veto a nasty anti-choice bill passed by the GOP-dominated legislature (despite supposedly being anti-abortion), and just came out for repeal of DADT after long opposing it.
This is all driving Meek bonkers, as Crist’s newfound progressivism merely parrots positions Meek has long held. But it’s hard to argue with the results. Florida Dems and Independents have always given the governor high marks, and these latest moves just aligns him better with the Florida mainstream. And Democrats, unwilling to give teabagger hero Marco Rubio an easy Senate seat, are already abandoning the Democrat for Crist.
So what should Meek do? Well, calls for him to step aside are stupid and premature. There are over five months left in the campaign, and history has plenty of examples of front-runners nuking each other to the benefit of a quiet, lesser-known third candidate. Ask Creigh Deeds about that. (Then again, don’t. I never want to hear from that guy again.)
Running so tightly together, Rubio and Crist have to focus on each other, and it’ll make little sense to spend precious campaign resources hitting the guy with 16% support. This way, Meek can do his own thing, mostly undisturbed, and hope he’s the only palatable choice left after Rubio and Crist have made each other radioactive.
Is this a likely path to victory? Probably not. But it’s certainly plausible.
But here’s the thing — Democrats will have a decision to make when they finally cast their ballots. They’ll have two options to choose from as they try to hand the teabaggers their biggest potential loss of the cycle. By then, Crist will have promised to caucus with the Democrats (mark my words, he’ll need to announce that if he hopes to lock up late Democratic support). The only question will be whether Crist or
Rubio Meek is best positioned to deliver that defeat.
But there’s no need to make that call now. Meek is certainly viable, and in a three-way race, anything can happen.