Happy birthday to Florida’s once-and-future governor, Charlie Crist.
If Charlie Crist is one thing right now, it’s a happily married man. The former state Senator, Commissioner of Education, Attorney General and Governor was a bachelor for much of his time in public life, but for the last four years, Charlie Crist has been a husband and step-father. And, just as it is for most any man, the wonders of family life have matured Crist for the better.
So, whether it be because he is out of office or because of the joys of marriage or just because he is closer to sunset than sunrise, Charlie Crist is a very different man than he was only a few years ago.
Charlie is upbeat, as always, but, like so much of his personality, in a more mature way than he was earlier this decade. He is also astutely aware of the political climate in Florida. He’s aware of this set of poll numbers and that news story. He is aware of who said what and why. Until recently, when he spoke out on Rick Scott’s voter purge, Charlie rarely had something negative to say about his successor.
But Crist does seem to feel sorry for Scott. Not for Scott’s current political problems or low approval ratings, but because Scott just doesn’t seem to love Florida as much as Crist does or Jeb Bush does or Bob Graham does.
All Charlie Crist can do is wait. Wait, and hope that Scott’s poll numbers don’t improve too much. And hope that Scott doesn’t not seek a second term. And hope that the economy neither improves nor stumbles.
There are countless factors which could forestall Crist’s shot at redemption.
But if the stars align, Crist will announce that he is running for Governor sometime in early 2014, not so early as to seem like he never went away, but no so late that Alex Sink decides to enter the Democratic primary before he does. Because if Crist enters before Sink, she will have nowhere to go. Crist will be embraced by the African-American community, which still views him as a hero for his work on civil rights, including the restoration of felon rights. Crist will be embraced by the environmental community, which looks at Crist as a prodigal son ready to return to his (green) roots. Crist will be embraced by the firefighters and police and teachers and all of the other public sector employees who have been downright humiliated by Rick Scott.
In other words, Crist will win the Democratic primary for governor in a walk, no matter who runs against him.
As for Crist vs. Scott, this is simply a no-brainer. Crist will never have to say a single cross word about Scott, as Florida voters will be seething at the opportunity to vote Scott the hell out of office.
Crist’s path is clear. He must, like so many other American politicians – Nixon, Reagan, Clinton – struggle through these wilderness years.
Because only if you have been in the deepest valley, can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain.