My latest thoughts on when Charlie Crist will announce his intentions for 2014

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Even though my last guess — I won’t call it a prediction — about when Charlie Crist would announce his plans for 2014 turned out to be very wrong, I’m ready to make another bold prediction, err, I mean guess: 

Charlie Crist will announce he is running for governor … later rather than sooner.

I can just hear the booing and hissing. You wanted a firm date when Crist will make his declaration.

I really don’t know. All I can say is I don’t think it’s happening in October, as everyone else is speculating. I really don’t think Charlie Crist will announce he’s running at the Florida Democratic Party’s state conference on October 25 at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resort.

Now, make no mistake, Crist is running. He’s absolutely running. Plans are being put into place. Major fundraisers are being asked what they anticipate they can pull in. Operatives are being promised positions.

In fact, if Charlie Crist were a rocket ship, he’d be on the launch pad with Flight Director Steve Schale in the Mission Control Center – perhaps wearing one of those vests like Ed Harris did in Ron Howard’s Apollo 13 — asking everyone, “Go or no-go?”

Everyone in the room would be saying, “Go!”

I, too, am saying “Go,” but I’m also saying, “Not so fast.”

First of all, Charlie is not going to announce before Alex Sink publicly declares her intentions. Although she had previously committed to making a decision by September, Sink now says she will make up her mind by the time of the Democratic confab in October. Sink’s announcement won’t be a particularly festive occasion because she’s going to say she’s not running and then she’s going to bemoan the fact that there aren’t more “real” Democrats in the race and why won’t Bill Nelson run, etc., etc. The whole episode will come off very bitter, as Sink has been during much of this process. 

Crist isn’t going to be anywhere near that. Or at least he shouldn’t be. He should let Sink bow out, sit back and wait for the remainder of the Democratic Party that is not with him to come to him because they’ve finally realized he’s their best shot at knocking off incumbent Rick Scott.

As for Crist announcing at the Democratic state conference on October 25, this is being floated by folks who really don’t know Charlie Crist.

First of all, he doesn’t share the stage with anyone not living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.  There’s just no way Crist is going to let his announcement be part of someone else’s agenda.

Secondly, Crist is incredibly loyal and connected to his hometown of St. Petersburg. He’s never before launched a campaign from anywhere else other than the ‘burg and he’s not going to break that tradition now. When Crist announces, he will want all of the friends and people he has been collecting for five decades to be there for the show. For the most part, these folks aren’t traveling to Orlando for The Announcement, but they will gladly congregate in one of St. Pete’s waterfront parks, as they have a half-dozen times before. for one of Charlie’s campaigns.

Another scheduling conflict that should delay Crist from announcing in October is the debut next year of his book — a “no-holds-barred” memoir of his breakup with the Republican Party. Why run for governor when you can launch a book tour instead? Why become an official target of the Florida GOP when you can keep everyone in a frenzy of anticipation as you tour the few brick-and-mortar bookstores still not put of business by Amazon? Why be bound by campaign finance limits when your publisher can foot the bill of a statewide tour?

Actually, those campaign finance limits have a lot to do with why it’s taking Crist so long to make an official announcement.  

The new campaign finance limits enacted by the Florida Legislature take effect on November 1 and these changes could impact Crist’s timing.

Why would Crist file in October and spend a month asking potential donors for $500 when he can wait a month and ask them for $3,000? He shouldn’t. In fact, this change in the campaign finance laws could be the most important factor in Crist’s thinking. He has to post at least a million dollars raised in his first report — I’d say he really needs to raise $3 million in his first 90 days on the trail, but that’s for another blog post — and it’s a lot easier to ask 334 people for $3,000 checks than it is to do it at $500 a clip.

So look for Crist to file in November … wait, no, that’s too close to the holidays — a horrible time to launch a political campaign and to ask for political donations. It’s difficult to schedule events near Thanksgiving, when folks rightly have better things on their mind than an election in 2014. It’s downright inappropriate to schedule fundraising events during the holidays, when people would rather be making the Christmas party rounds than listening to political speeches. 

This pushes “The Announcement” into 2014, perhaps during the second week of January.

Like I said, later rather than sooner.

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.