Charlie Crist can not win the Republican Primary, that much is now clear. The right wing of Florida’s GOP absolutely despises Charlie Crist.
But Charlie Crist is a loyal Republican. Forget about him having been a Republican his entire life. Forget about his mentor being Republican Connie Mack. Forget all of the “less taxes, more freedom” slogans. The bottom line is Charlie Crist’s parents are stalwart Republicans. Mrs. Crist is the embodiement of the classic Republican woman…a modern day Pat Nixon. She is the kind of thoughtful patrician who wears a proper dress even to go to the neighborhood Publix. And, Charlie’s father, Dr. Crist? To him, I believe, all of this Tea Party fury may be foreign to him, but he’s still a Republican from the noble Eisenhower-Rockefeller school of thought.
So if Charlie Crist is contemplating running for the U.S. Senate as an Independent, he is not worried about losing the support of anyone within the Florida Republican Party, save, perhaps George LeMieux. No, for Charlie, this decision to leave the Republican Party, even temporarily, is about two people – his wonderful mother and father.
There’s nothing Shakespearian about this decision. Charlie would never turn his back on his parents, nor they him. But what running as an Independent says about Charlie is that he failed. Failed as a Republican. That all those countless hours pressing the flesh at Lincoln Day Dinners and Reagan Day picnics was a waste of time. That his path along the cursus honorum of Florida politics has failed. That if he is to become a U.S. senator, he has to win with an asterick by his name.
But that is exactly the path Charlie Crist appears to be on. An Independent bid for the U.S. Senate. Connect the dots. He vetoes the ‘leadership funds’ bill and is now threatening to veto Senate Bill 6 (I don’t know why it’s a surprise to anyone that Crist is thinking about vetoing this disastrous bill – his sisters are school teachers).
By vetoing the leadership bill, Crist can now say there is plague on both parties’ houses, thereby positioning himself perfectly to receive the support of the large block of voters disgusted with both Democrats and Republicans. And by vetoing Senate Bill 6, in addition to delivering millions for education with the signing of the gambling compact and acceptance of the stimulus money to “save” the jobs of 20,000 teachers, Crist can legitimately say that his “third way” is the best way for education.
And with that, Charlie will be able to say his “third way” is the best way for Florida – even if it’s the only way for him to win.
Update – Newsweek asks: Should Charlie Crist reconsider an Independent Run?