The coming political storm: Rick, Alex, Charlie and the next big (political) thing

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So of course there is stormy weather brewing in the Caribbean, twenty-something days before the official end of the hurricane season. It is a weak area of low pressure, but is is broad, and a little unpredictable. There is only a small chance it will do anything but bring a lot of rain to Mexico, but then again no one every really knows what these things are going to do over the hills of Cuba.  It is the kind of thing that whilst in the throes of heightened political moments like the one we’re experiencing this week, completely elude people like me. There is politics to be had. We don’t have time for weather systems.

But storms, and particularly hurricanes, provide too good a metaphor not to use against the backdrop of the incredible political forces we’re all experiencing this week — and beyond. Today you could almost feel the warm, west African wind, the start of something epic, maybe even unprecedented.

Charlie Crist is already doing unprecedented things. He announced his candidacy for Governor of Florida — this time as a Democrat — at Albert Whitted Park in St. Petersburg this morning.

The event — complete with banner-dragging airplane and all — went off flawlessly, which is always how I’ve seen Crist events (even when he was a Republican). Put up against the image of incumbent Governor Rick Scott, this actually shouldn’t be that complicated. But it will be.

This campaign is going to be broad and wide — and intense. It would be easy to say that the formal entrance of Crist into the race is nothing but good news for Democrats, but that would be wrong. I suspect the Crist candidacy will foment something like a bit of a civil war within the Democratic Party of Florida, as those on the more progressive side of the aisle come to terms with the fact that Crist has, until recently, been a Republican. It is made all the more complicated by the fact that there is already a Democratic candidate in the race — Nan Rich.

The good news is, there is a year — a full year between now and Election Day 2014. Time is on Crist’s side, and if today’s event is any indication, he will use it effectively.  

I did not see Alex Sink at the event, but it would not have surprised me had she been there. The Crist announcement was a like a who’s who of my political Facebook friends and local elected dignitaries.

I’ve also never been to an event where there were so many whispers not about the future campaign at hand (ie, the Crist Campaign), but about tomorrow.

Look, not just one but many people could be overheard saying, There’s Rick Kriseman. Dude’s the next Mayor of St. Pete

That’s probably true, and his presence — he helped introduce Crist — seemed to offer a feeling of optimism, of hope. It was an incredibly interesting juxtaposition between Kriseman and Crist.

With Crist and the overwhelming media event, there was the sense of hope and optimism you get from Day One of a campaign. It was a kickoff, a rally, a battle cry, the start of something. For Kriseman, the campaign is ending, and most everyone recognizes that it is very likely to end very well tomorrow when the polls close.

For Kriseman, the fight has already been fought. The campaign staffers are tired but hopeful, and the cases have all been made. Now it’s decision time.

For Charlie Crist, those warm winds are only just now blowing off Cape Verde. For Rick Kriseman, the hurricane is already here.