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Is Charlie Crist laying the groundwork for an independent bid?

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Either Gov. Charlie Crist realizes he can’t escape the stimulus, or he’s leaning toward an independent run for Senate.

Crist is saying some curious things for a man in the midst of a conservative primary challenge.

Here are a few, just from the last couple days:

From an appearance on “Fox and Friends”: “[President Barack Obama has] done some things that are good for our state; he’s done some things that are not good for our state. But what I have to do is make sure that I’m working with anybody who will do things that are good for our state and not just cast them aside because they have a different letter behind their name.”

On supporting the stimulus: “I don’t apologize for it at all. It was the right thing to do. We needed the money. It saved 87,000 jobs for our state.”

More, from the St. Petersburg Times: “I understand that different people view [the stimulus] in a different way. In the shoes that I stand in right now,

I’ve got to look out for the people, and that’s what I’m doing.”

Crist met with Obama in Washington this week after (not-so-smoothly) ignoring him late last year. He has also parted ways with some key campaign staff, including political director Pablo Diaz and new-media consultant Sean Doughtie, who told the Times simply, “The campaign was going in a different direction.”

The campaign is definitely headed in a different direction, which is to be understood, what with its declining poll numbers. The question is what kind of direction.

Crist’s camp has steadfastly denied it will go the independent route, but Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) was saying the same thing mere days before he became a Democrat.

An independent run is easily the most tempting scenario for political junkies, and polls show Crist would stand a better chance of winning in a three-way race with Republican former state House Speaker Marco Rubio and Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.) than he would of winning the GOP primary.

If he does want to go down that road, he must decide by April 30. He can still take the $7.6 million he has banked and use it on an independent bid, so he would have a fighting chance without a party infrastructure behind him. Read more 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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