Jennifer Carroll's measured response to Charlie Crist's switch

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The response of Florida Republicans to Charlie Crist signing up  to become a Democrat has run the gamut from apoplectic to unsurprised, with most GOPers eager to take Crist on in 2014. Many, in fact, are chomping at the bit.

“Bring it on,” Peter Feaman, the party’s national committeeman, told a room of Republican activists. “That man sat at my house, in my kitchen, at my breakfast table and told me he was a Ronald Reagan Republican. OK, I’m putting my boots on, because guess what? You lied to me.”

Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry, who just last month saw his side lose almost every election or issue on the statewide ballot and has had Crist in his crosshairs for some time, is spoiling for a fight.

“We’re going to be ready to play ball,” said Curry, noting that Crist previously praised former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, criticized Obama and held conservative views on abortion.

Attacking Crist now or during a Democratic primary could backfire, however.

“The only people who are paying attention right now are the most hardcore of partisans,” said Steve Schale (via Troy Kinsey). “And if you’re a Democrat and you’re not sure you can get your arms around Crist as a Democrat, the fact that Republicans are attacking him makes you go, ‘Well, maybe he’s not that bad of a guy.'”

If Schale’s analysis is true, perhaps Republicans would do better to adopt Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll’s measured response to Crist’s party switch.

“He has to do what’s best for him,” Carroll said this weekend during the quarterly meeting of the Republican Executive Committee. “If he runs, fine. If he doesn’t run, fine. Anybody who runs is a formidable candidate but we have a solid record to run on, so we’re going to be talking about jobs, education and making Florida a more affordable place for families.”

Carroll sounds like someone who has scored a touchdown before and doesn’t feel the need to beat her chest after each play. Republicans would do well to emulate Caroll.

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.