Report: Crist set to leave GOP, run as an independent

posted at 4:22 pm on February 25, 2010 by Allahpundit

The Hill was hinting about it last night and now, right on cue, the rumors are flying. Honestly, I don’t get it. I get leaving the party to avoid an unwinnable primary against Rubio, but why run as an indie when you could run as a Democrat?

Two highly placed and independent sources, speaking strictly on background, tell me that Gov. Charlie Crist is preparing to leave the Republican Party and run as an independent in the race for the U.S. Senate…

Another well-placed source tells me the reason several Crist campaign staffers left recently is because, being committed Republicans, they refused to take part in an independent Senate run by Crist. That’s not confirmed by an independent second source, but it does ring true.

Now, reports from anonymous sources are sometimes wrong, so I have stopped short of reporting a Crist independent run as a verifiable fact, even though I believe my sources are accurate.

Two precedents here: Lieberman running, and winning, as an independent in Connecticut and Specter running, and likely losing, as a newly-minted Democrat in Pennsylvania this year. Given the difference in results, following Liebs’s lead is a no-brainer, right? Not so fast. For one thing, the general election in Connecticut wasn’t a traditional three-way race. Because the state is overwhelmingly Democratic, it was basically a rerun of the Democratic primary with a marginal Republican wild card tossed in. Under those circumstances, it makes sense for conservatives to vote for the conservative Democrat instead of throwing their vote away on the GOP. In a purplish state like Pennsylvania or Florida, you’re more likely to see a traditional three-way dynamic where committed Dems and Repubs vote for their parties while centrists break every which way. For Crist to win as an indie, they’d all have to break for him. Tain’t likely, especially with conservative enthusiasm in November likely to mean massive turnout for Rubio. Crist will need every centrist Republican he can get plus a huge swath of Democrats, but how does he manage that if there’s a nominee with name recognition — namely, Kendrick Meek — running on the Democratic ticket?

The smarter play is to follow Specter’s lead by going Democrat, kissing up to Obama in hopes that the White House will “pull a Sestak” with Meek, taking his chances with Meek in a Democratic primary if he can’t be bought off, and then hoping that rank-and-file Dems line up behind him with an “anyone but Rubio” vote in November. Even that scenario is unlikely, though. Rubio may be an ideologue but, a la The One, he’s a young, soft-spoken, charismatic ideologue, which makes it harder to goose turnout by demonizing him. In fact, Daily Kos polled a hypothetical three-way race between Crist, Meek, and Rubio back in November and found a tight 32/31/27 split — at a time when Rubio was still trailing Crist head to head by 11 points. There’s been a 30-point swing since then, which makes me think Rubio’s probably somewhere around 40 percent right now in a three-man contest. With prominent Republicans lining up behind him and many Dems bound to vote the party line, how does Crist come up with 41 percent from what’s left?

I was planning to write about Rubio’s credit-card “scandal” before the Crist news broke, but there actually isn’t much to say about it. Read the story, bearing two things in mind. One: According to Jack Funari, who wrote the piece about Crist possibly turning indie, Rubio’s charges on his GOP credit card were actually dramatically less than most Republican pols’. (“From what’s been made public, Rubio’s credit card expenses make him the most frugal of the Republican leaders with RPOF credit cards.”) Two: Since Rubio reimbursed the party for all personal charges, the story’s likely dead — unless there’s some tax angle related to imputed income. Which, per the reimbursement, there probably isn’t.

Exit question: McCain told The Hill this morning that he’d “be glad to try to help” Crist if and when Crist asks him to. Does that still apply if Crist bolts the party?


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If Crist bolts it wouldn’t surprise me and it would PROVE beyond any doubt he’s a squish RINO. It would also KILL any ambitions he might have for future elective office. He had better think LONG and HARD before going down this road!

FloridaBill on February 25, 2010 at 5:19 PM

Stick a fork in him…

But again, the fork might just bounce back out. Too many days soaking up the FL sun might have turned his sin into leather… (Did you all see that tan?)

newton on February 25, 2010 at 5:24 PM

I meant “skin”… Dang!

newton on February 25, 2010 at 5:24 PM

Crist set to leave GOP, run as an independent

Owners of tanning salons and makers of sunblock and spray-on tanning products looking forward to increased business.

ya2daup on February 25, 2010 at 5:24 PM

But if you were Rahm or Axelrod and you knew Rubio was going to get the GOP nomination and that the Dem would almost certainly lose to Rubio, what other alternative is there is you want to torpedo Rubio-have Crist run as a 3rd party candidate and split the vote. That’s politics 101. It may not work out as you suggest, but what other alternative does Obama have? It’s your best shot to take down Rubio. If it doesn’t work, at least you tried.

technopeasant on February 25, 2010 at 5:13 PM

Why do you think Obama is pulling the strings on any of this? Crist doesn’t want to lose in the primary. He doesn’t need Obama to tell him to switch parties – he can read the polls just fine by himself.

Proud Rino on February 25, 2010 at 5:25 PM

2 RINOS the RNC & NRCC have given money to, only to see them back stab the party. You think Steele & Cornyn might be getting a hint yet? And also can they demand their money back from Crist?

Tasha on February 25, 2010 at 4:26 PM

These are my thoughts exactly.

I hope that John Cornyn feels like the genius that he is at this point.

This illustrates the foolhardiness of the NRCC and the GOP getting involved in Republican primaries (absent someone like David Duke running as a Republican).

If Crist exits (like it appears) in an ugly departure, followed by an electoral drubbing, this should end his political career.

Maybe Obama can find something for him to do in some alphabet agency.

molonlabe28 on February 25, 2010 at 5:25 PM

Too many days soaking up the FL sun might have turned his skin into leather… (Did you all see that tan?)

newton on February 25, 2010 at 5:24 PM

I hear his off orange color is not actually from the Florida sun, but rather from extended overuse of Embalming Fluid in a Bottle.

MB4 on February 25, 2010 at 5:28 PM

How would this play out?

If he runs as an Independent, would he take votes from Rubio, or…is the democrat brand so tainted, that he’d be seen as a moderate democrat, and steal votes from Meek?

capejasmine on February 25, 2010 at 5:30 PM

Proud Rino on February 25, 2010 at 5:25 PM

I know how George Soros, the Far Left and the Obama war room think. They are diabolical. This has the smell of an Alinsky or Machaevellian move.

technopeasant on February 25, 2010 at 5:31 PM

Once again the RINOs will damage the GOP if at all possible. It will interesting to see if any RINOs support Crist and, in turn, stab the conservatives in the back. If they do, the Tea Party folks are going to be attacked from all angles by the liberals and their propaganda machines in the MSM. Lincoln was president over the War Between the States, this is going to be the real Civil War.

volsense on February 25, 2010 at 5:34 PM

I won’t be voting for Crist. The man is a two-faced RINO a la Specter.

aigle on February 25, 2010 at 5:36 PM

volsense on February 25, 2010 at 5:34 PM

I hadn’t thought about the TP movement but if the Obama could get two for the price for one, defeating Rubio and marginalizing the TP movement, so much the better.

technopeasant on February 25, 2010 at 5:37 PM

Rubio is a big threat to The Narrative.
It wouldn’t surprise me if they pull out all the stops to beat him, including making some kind of under-the-table offer to Crist to run as an independent to split the vote.
If Crist really cared about the Republican party he’d simply drop out.

exceller on February 25, 2010 at 5:44 PM

Go ahead, Charlie. Keep proving us right.

Red Cloud on February 25, 2010 at 5:45 PM

Third party = third rail.

BHO Jonestown on February 25, 2010 at 5:45 PM

Will Juan still campaign for him against the Republican?

thomasaur on February 25, 2010 at 5:46 PM

If Crist really cared about the Republican party he’d simply drop out.

exceller on February 25, 2010 at 5:44 PM

And if Lieberman really cared about the Democratic Party, he would have dropped out in 2006.

Man, it’s almost as if these guys care more about their own careers than they do their political parties!

Proud Rino on February 25, 2010 at 5:47 PM

Just like his friend Obama, a sore loser………

bluegrass on February 25, 2010 at 5:47 PM

explain to me again how conservatives are idiots for wanting a third party?

unseen on February 25, 2010 at 5:49 PM

If polls show McCain behind JD I’m sure he will run third paty too

unseen on February 25, 2010 at 5:50 PM

If Crist split the vote by running as an I he would most probably drain from Meeks not Rubio… The repubs in essence are already rejecting Crist because he’s more Dem than Repub… that’s how I see it…

CCRWM on February 25, 2010 at 5:54 PM

Great. He can split the Democrat vote. Run, Charlie run.

JimP on February 25, 2010 at 5:57 PM

How would this play out?

If he runs as an Independent, would he take votes from Rubio, or…is the democrat brand so tainted, that he’d be seen as a moderate democrat, and steal votes from Meek?

capejasmine on February 25, 2010 at 5:30 PM

Current polls show Rubio leading (Democrat) Meek by a bigger margin than Crist leads Meek, meaning that more indies like Rubio than Crist. Republicans, some of whom might have thought Crist would have a better chance than Rubio, will probably feel betrayed and vote en masse for Rubio, and the indies who now support Rubio will probably stay with him. Rubio also is at 51% in the last head-to-head poll against Meek–would any of his supporters desert him for an obvious loser like Crist? If not, 51% wins, whether against one opponent or two.

If Crist runs as an Independent, one key player in this race will be Jeb Bush. He was very popular in Florida when he was term-limited as Governor in 2006, and anointed Crist as his successor, but Crist has proved to be MUCH less conservative than Jeb Bush, and Bush (whose wife is Cuban-American) might find Rubio more aligned with his own ideas and endorse him. If Jeb Bush campaigns for Rubio, Crist is toast, and Rubio will be a Senator.

Steve Z on February 25, 2010 at 6:03 PM

Answer: Crist isn’t doing it to win, he’s doing it because the White House is giving him something for it.

American Elephant on February 25, 2010 at 6:05 PM

A trial balloon. They’ll crunch the numbers (response) and he’ll not leave the party and withdraw. He’d only go through with it if he moved up in the polls from where he is.

Marcus on February 25, 2010 at 6:14 PM

And also can they demand their money back from Crist?
Tasha on February 25, 2010 at 4:26 PM

Yes they can!

But actually Crist did not get any money from the NRSC.

Nelsa on February 25, 2010 at 6:17 PM

Crist can’t win if he runs independent. Only a very popular candidate could do that, and he isn’t that popular.

Only way this makes sense is if he is acting as a spoiler for the Democrats (with or without their cheerleading). After he kneecaps Rubio he gets his 30 pices of silver in the form of an appointment somewhere.

The Democrats could bail on Meeks and throw their support behind the so-called ‘Independent’ Crist, but that doesn’t seem likely.

sharrukin on February 25, 2010 at 6:20 PM

And if Lieberman really cared about the Democratic Party, he would have dropped out in 2006.

Lieberman was in a much different situation in 2006 than Crist is now. Lieberman is a liberal Democrat on social issues, but he is hawkish on military issues and foreign policy. In 2006, his Democrat primary opponent Ned Lamont advocated “cut and run” from Iraq, as did his Republican (sacrificial lamb) opponent Schlessinger.

Connecticut has about 33% registered Democrats and 22% Republicans, and the rest are Independents. Lieberman believed (correctly) that some Republicans would support him for his hawkish views on Iraq, and Independents would appreciate his relatively “centrist” ideas, not in lock-step with either party. Lieberman was also a three-term incumbent and well-known in the state, which Crist is not.

Crist basically won the Governorship as the anointed successor of popular former Governor Jeb Bush, then turned his back on Republicans after Obama won the Presidency and the state of Florida. But Florida’s state legislature is dominated by Republicans, and Florida has more than its share of retired people on Medicare, whose benefits would be cut if ObamaCare passed Congress. While Floridians are abandoning Obama in droves, Crist is embracing him and spitting into the political wind. Crist is toast–hopefully he will go down alone and not take Rubio with him.

Steve Z on February 25, 2010 at 6:24 PM

Florida voters have discovered there is no ‘H’ in his last name. They also noted that he was way beyond is use by date.

meci on February 25, 2010 at 6:28 PM

Christ is a RINO…..go 4 it Charlie baby!!

PappyD61 on February 25, 2010 at 6:31 PM

but why run as an indie when you could run as a Democrat?

Because he is not a Democrat, that is why. He is not Specter.

Squid Shark on February 25, 2010 at 6:38 PM

Man, it’s almost as if these guys care more about their own careers than they do their political parties!

Proud Rino on February 25, 2010 at 5:47 PM

Ya think?

davidk on February 25, 2010 at 6:41 PM

If Crist really cared about the Republican party he’d simply drop out.

exceller on February 25, 2010 at 5:44 PM

And if Lieberman really cared about the Democratic Party, he would have dropped out in 2006.

Man, it’s almost as if these guys care more about their own careers than they do their political parties!

Proud Rino on February 25, 2010 at 5:47 PM

If he really cared about the Republicans he would stay and fight.

Squid Shark on February 25, 2010 at 6:41 PM

Crist basically won the Governorship as the anointed successor of popular former Governor Jeb Bush, then turned his back on Republicans after Obama won the Presidency and the state of Florida. But Florida’s state legislature is dominated by Republicans, and Florida has more than its share of retired people on Medicare, whose benefits would be cut if ObamaCare passed Congress. While Floridians are abandoning Obama in droves, Crist is embracing him and spitting into the political wind. Crist is toast–hopefully he will go down alone and not take Rubio with him.

Since Crist does not and has never supported Obama Care, I am missing the point of this paragraph.

Squid Shark on February 25, 2010 at 6:43 PM

If Crist split the vote by running as an I he would most probably drain from Meeks not Rubio… The repubs in essence are already rejecting Crist because he’s more Dem than Repub… that’s how I see it…

CCRWM on February 25, 2010 at 5:54 PM

I highly doubt it. He is not popular among Democrats, despite what Rubio would like you to think.

Squid Shark on February 25, 2010 at 6:45 PM

I know a number of Indie’s here in East Central Fl…
When they watched Rubio’s farewell speech, for most, in their minds…
It was over for Charlie…

jerrytbg on February 25, 2010 at 6:53 PM

When they watched Rubio’s farewell speech, for most, in their minds…
It was over for Charlie…

jerrytbg on February 25, 2010 at 6:53 PM

Sounds like some other voters who made their decision based on a speech. Obamabots.

Squid Shark on February 25, 2010 at 7:00 PM

I hope McCain does back Crist as an indie. That would certainly help JD in his primary race against McCain.

casel21 on February 25, 2010 at 7:09 PM

Isn’t this the political version of cross-dressing? I’m mean, it seems designed to conceal what’s underneath, right?

platypus on February 25, 2010 at 7:10 PM

I just think he’s telegraphing this suggests that the perks are WAY too juicy.

It’s unsavory.

AnninCA on February 25, 2010 at 7:13 PM

Time for every Republican that’s backing him to formally unendorse.

- The Cat

MirCat on February 25, 2010 at 7:45 PM

Sweet. He does this, and his RINO protégées are also finished in the State.

Works for me.

Greg Q on February 25, 2010 at 8:08 PM

Some people have a REALLY hard time dealing with rejection.

Sporty1946 on February 25, 2010 at 8:09 PM

Crist didn’t say anything about this on Bubba the Love Sponge this morning.

RWLA on February 25, 2010 at 8:14 PM

He’s gay or at least bi.

He should join the GOProud group and shout down all those married heteros.

Sapwolf on February 25, 2010 at 8:17 PM

…but why run as an indie when you could run as a Democrat?

Well, du-uh!

If Crist runs as a Democrat, then it’s possible that Rubio might win. Running as an Independent, Crist will only need around 10% of the vote to make Rubio lose.

I’m not saying Crist he can definitely get that many votes. But this way, Crist at least has a CHANCE of achieving his goal.

logis on February 25, 2010 at 9:09 PM

Where is his pal John McCain? They were best buddies a couple of years ago (along with about 20 other people he promised VP too….)
Friggin schmo.
Good night Charlie.

JeffinOrlando on February 25, 2010 at 9:10 PM

How’s this working out for you AP. I see all the whining about 3rd Party runs by the Tea Party but now a “main stream” Repub is talking about a 3rd Party run. This is the hypocrisy that I detest in the GOP. Conservatives must buck up and support the candidates given us but the elites are free to shaft us whenever they like. This is me scratching my nose with a particular finger at the GOP. Why, they endorsed this loser.

chemman on February 25, 2010 at 9:14 PM

If Crist runs as an “independent”, he puts himself in a position to peel off enough of the middle and the left half of the Republican base to give the election to the ‘Rat and deny Rubio the seat.

steveegg on February 25, 2010 at 4:45 PM

I could see Crist’s motivation if Rubio betrayed Crist in some way, but it was Rubio who announced for Senate first (the thinking was Crist would seek re-election as governor). Another commenter said Crist could have challenged Sen. Nelson in a year if Rubio beat him. Plus, this jump to independent is not being denied on Crist’s campaign page, facebook or twitter sites. So if this plays out as you say Steve, it’s just sore loser politics.

Mark30339 on February 25, 2010 at 9:24 PM

Why is Crist not running as a Democrat? Because he doesn’t see himself as one, despite what you (Allahpundit) and the people here think. He sees his odds against Rubio in the primary and then looks at his chances against the Democratic challenger. It makes sense, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he does run as an Independent.

DanStark on February 25, 2010 at 9:46 PM

McCain still has time to endorse Crist. If McCain wins the primary battle, he’ll endorse Crist sometime before the Senate election (a little over a month’s time to do it). After the Republican primary, he needs to convince all Arizonians, not just conservatives. He is a maverick, don’t you remember? (okay, that last bit was sort of a joke).

DanStark on February 25, 2010 at 9:53 PM

Is that shrewd decider of who receives NRSC funding, known as John Cornyn, gonna ask for the NRSC’s money back?

How ’bout all those Republican politicians that have already publicly backed Tanboy Crist, will they back Rubio when Crist takes his ball and runs home?

Gohawgs on February 25, 2010 at 9:58 PM

Run as an independent what?

Dr. ZhivBlago on February 25, 2010 at 10:27 PM

Maybe a conservative will run as an independent too.. wouldn’t it be nice for the Republican candidate to finish third or fourth for a change? Maybe then the GOP would get the message (since they obviously didn’t get it after the losses in ’06 and ’08).

popularpeoplesfront on February 26, 2010 at 12:01 AM

Squid Shark on February 25, 2010 at 6:38 PM

Got that right. He’s worse than Specter.

How about this guy though? How…about…another look at Crist. Such a great pillar of the Republican Party than he would torpedo a seat because of his own narcissism.

hawkdriver on February 26, 2010 at 12:48 AM

Squid Shark on February 25, 2010 at 7:00 PM

There’s nothng wrong with people who can speak great publically. People were fainting at Obama speeches and most of us were saying that the content was fluff. But when the person is saying something substantive and what the people want to hear coming from the person sounds like it’ll be translated into that type of legislating or governing, then people are inspired by speeches.

Reagan rescued me from my liberal family background with his speeches about America and it greatness and how you could be part of the greatness.

hawkdriver on February 26, 2010 at 12:55 AM

CRIST WAS NEVER REALLY A REPUBLICAN! To me he was Florida’s ULTIMATE NEOCON!

BobAnthony on February 26, 2010 at 7:02 AM

Got that right. He’s worse than Specter.

How about this guy though? How…about…another look at Crist. Such a great pillar of the Republican Party than he would torpedo a seat because of his own narcissism.

hawkdriver on February 26, 2010 at 12:48 AM

Since it it is still just the speculation of bored bloggers designed to get you Rubes to go. SEEE SEEEEEEEEEE! I knew he was really a democrat, than I will say, we shall see.

Squid Shark on February 26, 2010 at 7:15 AM

well as it has worked out so well for Spector …let him

Aggie95 on February 26, 2010 at 8:34 AM

This crap is part of the whispering campaign coming from the Rubio camp. He has been trying to plant this meme for a year now.

Yes Marco….we hear and obey

Squid Shark on February 26, 2010 at 9:11 AM

Every time I see that picture of Choo Choo Charlie Crist, I see the look of ironclad steely determination that says with bold assertiveness “Damn It, this time that laxative is GOING TO WORK!!!!”

Or he is just looking into the future and seeing a great big black hole where his political career used to be.

pilamaye on February 26, 2010 at 9:13 AM

What’s the difference between “running” as an independent and endorsing the Democrat candidate.

Hey Newt, while I’m asking, have you an opinion on the difference between these two terms; Scozzafavian and Machiavellian?

Saltysam on February 26, 2010 at 9:34 AM

Mac is waiting on Crist to ask for his endorsement. Why hasn’t Crist asked him yet, does he feel that Mac is tainted and since the election loss really isn’t that popular in Fla? Palin, Mitt and now Pawlenty have stepped up for Mac showing a lot of party loyalty, now that it’s Mac’s turn to show some love, he’s not going to. He doesn’t want to back a loser and he’s in the fight of his career at home.

Kissmygrits on February 26, 2010 at 9:42 AM

The suspected Homosexual guy leaving the Republican party.

O No, ED and ALLah write some posts begging him to stay!

We need him!.

Give him air time. ! Write 5 pieces on him, alone.

Then boast about it. Say We wrote 5 pieces on him, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.

Just kidding, C-ya liar, Crist you liar.

If he is gay I wonder how many gay partners he has had because again it’s all about the sex; maybe a good 223?

Homosexuals are something else before they are Conservative.

father on February 26, 2010 at 4:08 PM

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