Friday, April 16, 2010

Crist Watch: As the Worm Turns

Stacy McCain has a source that says Charlie Crist will announce today that he is launching an Independent bid for US Senator from Florida.  Put that in the "might as well" category.  Having vetoed the Jeb Bush backed and Republican supported teacher pay bill on Thursday, he has effectively ended any chance he might have had to defeat Marco Rubio to become the Republican candidate this fall.  From Jennifer Rubin at Contentions:

This might make sense — if independents were enamored of public employees’ unions and against school reform. But they aren’t, and its the sort of thing that will make Crist unpopular with everyone but the teachers’ union, which will no doubt support the Democrat in the general election anyway. No wonder Crist’s campaign chairman quit. It was the type of move for which Crist has now become infamous — combining bad politics with bad policy.

Moreover, Crist managed to infuriate popular ex-governor Jeb Bush, who’s as yet not made an official endorsement in the race. But his statement lashing out at Crist’s veto is the sort of thing Marco Rubio will be putting in his campaign ads:

I am disappointed by the veto of Senate Bill 6. … By taking this action, Governor Crist has jeopardized the ability of Florida to build on the progress of the last decade, which includes raising student achievement across the board, narrowing the achievement gap for poor and minority students, and improving graduation rates. Florida’s sustained improvement is the result of bold reforms that were challenging, controversial and sometimes even unpopular. Reform is hard work but without a commitment to change, Florida would not be 8th in the nation today.
All in all, it was a harebrained move by a politician who has demonstrated why it is a very good thing to have contested primaries: voters can figure out who’s a disaster waiting to happen.
I feel compelled to point out that this would not have been a contested primary had the NRSC had its way.  More proof that the NRSC should stay out of local politics until after the primary voters have had the opportunity to have their say.


 And then Mack abandons ship:

Gov. Charlie Crist’s political mentor, former U.S. Sen. Connie Mack, resigned Thursday as Crist’s campaign chairman in his race for the U.S. Senate…

“As you know, I strongly disagree with your veto,” Mack wrote his fellow Republican. “Your veto I believe undermines our education system in Florida and the principles for which I have always stood.”

Mack went on to say that Crist’s decision to veto the bill was “unsupportable and wrong.”

“As you can understand, I can no longer serve as chairman for your campaign for the United States Senate,” Mack wrote.
I know today’s veto was a big deal but it surely wasn’t so big that Mack would cut ties to his own protege over it in an act of conscience. Either he’s using this as a pretext to head for the lifeboats because the Republican nomination is now officially unwinnable or Crist’s told him privately that he’s running as an independent and Mack refuses to go against the party. Either way, Crist’s days as a Republican Senate candidate are over. Say, John Cornyn — you and the NRSC endorsed Crist almost a year ago, didn’t you? How are you feeling this fine evening?
I've said all along that Crist running as an Independent would be an act of throwing good money after bad.  It won't help him and simply feeds in to Crist's reputation as being an opportunist.  If he wants any chance of preserving his political career, Crist needs to bow out gracefully.  I'm not sure that "graceful" is currently on Crist's radar.  In any case, Crist has learned that you can't run as a Republican while, literally, embracing Democrats.

H/T Instapundit

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