Florida Governor Charlie Crist has made a decision. He has decided to run as an Independent instead of as a Republican in the race for the open U.S. Senate seat. Crist, despite months of insisting he would never run as anything but a Republican, looking the cameras straight-on and denying any thoughts of running as an Independent, sees the polls and knows the truth. He cannot beat Marco Rubio. Instead of seeing the race through, or simply dropping out, Crist has decided the race is all about his ego and not the people of Florida.
Crist and his record as governor are not so popular with Republican voters. At a time when the GOP was fighting President Obama on a massive government spending/stimulus bill, Crist decided to align himself with Obama. Now the infamous photo of 'the hug' has come back to haunt him. When Obama went to Florida to rally support for the bill, Crist was a willing useful idiot. He appeared on stage with Obama and hugged it out. Instead of strongly disagreeing with the wasteful allocation of federal dollars, as Texas Governor Perry, for example, did, Crist sided with the liberal Democrats in Congress. Texas accepted federal monies but did not accept all that was available and voiced opposition to strings attached that would prove detrimental to states' budgets in coming years. Republicans expected better from Crist.
Some will look at the move in simplistic terms. The truth is, though, Charlie Crist isn't scorned by the GOP for being a moderate. He is scorned for being a nothing. He is the worst kind of politician - a man of no principle. He is proving again to be only out for himself and his career.
From The Note at ABC News: Deeper than ideology, or even hugs: “The more complicated truth, say top GOP officials from both wings of the party, is that an ornery conservative base is expressing its disgust for Republicans who have both flagrantly defied the party and who represent a distrusted political establishment,” Politico’s Jonathan Martin reports. “GOP officials, preparing for Crist’s move Thursday, said his unambiguous play for political survival wouldn’t reveal fissures within the party as much as it would underline the problem he already has -- that he’s the ultimate play-the-angles pol.” While it is obnoxious of reporter Martin to describe the conservative base as 'ornery', he is accurate in his description of Crist. It is all about survival.
Crist has not exactly accumulated a stellar record as the leader of the state of Florida. Now reporting is uncovering some not so above board deals given to friends of Crist. It is not just frustration towards incumbents but frustration towards incumbents going along to get along. It is expected that our leaders know when to say no. It is expected that our leaders know that simply throwing tax payer money at problems doesn't get the results needed. Republicans are waking up across the country and demanding the party principles make a comeback to guide the way forward. Crist is the wrong kind of moderate - he spends like a liberal. Moderates can still win re-elections if the candidate has a history of fiscal conservatism.
How he has fallen. Just last year he was 30 points up over unknown, outside of Florida, Marco Rubio. Then misstep after misstep for his own political gain continued. He was against offshore drilling before he was for it and now he is against it again. He went back and forth with the teachers' unions. He is a leaf in the wind.
Now, Republicans who donated to his campaign in good faith, taking the man at his word that he was running as a Republican, are asking for the money returned. Senator Cornyn, chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, who endorsed Crist early on in the campaign, is requesting a refund of $10,000. Senator Cornyn thinks his request is just the beginning.
The race will be interesting. We can only hope the victor is not the Democrat in the race.