This week, oil from BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico is expected to hit the shores of Florida’s northwest Panhandle, greasing the Sunshine State’s pristine white-sand beaches in time for the summer tourist season. Already, hotels and restaurants are losing bookings for the coming weeks, though the extent of the BP disaster on Florida’s economy—not to mention its coastlines and the water off its shores—is still unclear.
Leading the charge to assure Floridians and potential tourists that the state is open for business is Republican Governor Charlie Crist. Crist is a candidate for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat and he sent ripples throughout the country with his decision in late April to ditch the GOP and run as an independent. Right now, Crist holds a small lead in the polls, edging out Republican (and Tea Party golden boy) Marco Rubio, a former state legislator, and Democrat Kendrick Meek, a U.S. House representative from southeastern Florida. But will the BP oil spill, expected to last until August, sink Crist’s Senate dreams? Continue reading here.