I imagine a political reporter could just about go mad thinking about all of the ramifications of Charlie Crist’s decision to drop out out of the GOP primary and run for the U.S. Senate with No Party Affiliation.
One unintended consequence of Crist’s decision is the impact not having Crist and Rubio driving turnout in the Primary will have on down-ballot races, including partisan races, such as state legislative primaries and county commission races, and on non-partisan races where party affiliation may not be listed, but still remains a factor.
Take a look at some of the races in Tampa Bay, now that we know Crist and Rubio won’t be pumping tens of millions in Get-Out-The-Vote operations in July and August, that will have enormous impact in the GOP primaries for Florida State House Districts 45, 47, 57 and 60 and Florida Senate District 10 and 12.
Weren’t moderate Republican candidates like Kathryn Starkey (H-45) and Irene Guy (H-47) looking for Crist to turn out the support of moderate Republicans?
Wasn’t Paul Phillips (S-10) looking for a surge from conservative voters over “liberal” Rhonda Storms?
Regardless of who would have won, there is no doubt having Crist and Rubio on the ballot would have increased turnout. How they would have impacted turnout is still debatable; not having Crist on the ballot in August takes away a major reason for moderate Republicans to head to the polls, just as not having Rubio on the ballot takes millions of dollars out of the GOTV plan to turn out the most conservative voters.
The real impact of not having Crist and Rubio on the ballot in August (and now having at least a nominal Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate) will be felt in the non-partisan school board and judicial races that will be decided. Take, for example, the race for the Pinellas School Board where Terry Krassner is running. She had been identified as being aligned with the Pinellas GOP, which would have likely supported her, albeit quietly. I thought Krassner was a shoo-in for this seat, but now, with a couple thousand less Republicans heading to the polls in August and a thousand more Democrats casting ballots for Kendrick Meek, the math just changed.
And this is all just in Pinellas County and Tampa Bay. Multiply this butterfly effect by 67 counties and we’re talking about hundreds of down-ballot races in which the arithmetic just changed dramatically.