Sixty-eight days from now, we will know whether Charlie Crist’s decision to switch parties and run as a Democrat in Florida’s governor’s race was the wise decision.
To date, he has endured slings and arrows from the left and the right, whether it be from faux progressive groups propped up by mysterious donors or from millions of dollars of attack ads from Rick Scottworld.
As any first-term Army War College student can tell you, it’s never ideal to be caught in a Pincher movement, which is where Crist has found himself for most of this campaign.
That ended on Tuesday. And beginning today, things should get a lot better — quickly — for Crist.
Ending yesterday were the calls for Crist to debate Nan Rich, to listen to Nan Rich, to pay attention Nan Rich. How about goodbye Nan Rich? Rich needs to endorse Crist Thursday at the Democratic Party unity rally and exit stage left.
Ending yesterday was the opportunity for Republicans to underwrite third-party attacks on Crist via faux liberal organizations, such as Progressive Choice. PC has been nipping at Crist’s heels for months, complaining that Crist isn’t a “real” Democrat, whatever that means.
Ending yesterday was any excuse for big-money Democratic donors to not give money to Crist, now the standard bearer for their party. Some of them had waited until Bill Nelson was officially not in the race before they would support him. A smaller number of Democrats, especially liberal activists, refused to embrace Crist while Rich was still in the race. Now they must decide whether to hold their noses and support Crist or face the prospect of another four years of Rick Scott.
Addition by subtraction being one thing, Crist should also benefit from much-needed reinforcements; namely, the Big Dog.
Former President Bill Clinton has wanted to campaign for Crist since his campaign launch. There was a serious rumor that Clinton would have endorsed Crist last November after he announced his candidacy, but Clinton’s endorsement never materialized. Part of the challenge for the Clintons was Hillary’s fondness for Nan Rich and their lingering resentment of Team Obama, which has set up shop in Cristworld.
But now Bill can barnstorm the Sunshine State much the same way he did for Obama in 2012. Crist could not ask for a better surrogate, something he’s still short of (can Crist send Dwight Bullard to rally voters in Orlando? Or some no-name legislator to campaign for him in Duval County?).
Today, Crist also gains control of what there is of the state party apparatus. The staffers who were playing neutral before will get in line. The DNC, which was ostensibly staying on the sidelines, can now weigh in. All of the national liberal media outlets and organizations — from Daily Kos to MoveOn.org can start campaigning for Crist. For Charlie, a man without a party for four years, it couldn’t come at a better time.
In poker, there is a concept known as implied odds. Implied odds is an estimation on how much money you CAN win from the bet if you hit one of your outs. For instance, with 100 in the pot, and a bet of 20, is your gain really only 100 if you win? Can you really not squeeze out an extra few bucks from your opponent if you hit your flush? You probably can – and so as the pot will get bigger, your implied odds go up.
Crist is not favored to win, but he has implied odds on his side. If he can hit his outs — impressive debate performances, strong turnout in South Florida, more money than expected from national donors — he will win the biggest pot of his life.