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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he’s finished.

jbh45 on February 25, 2010 at 4:24 PM

KABOOM

rockmom on February 25, 2010 at 4:25 PM

Ruh roh…

d1carter on February 25, 2010 at 4:25 PM

Crist (stamps feet) “If I can’t win the seat as a Republican, I’ll see what I can do to stop Rubio do it too!”

cs89 on February 25, 2010 at 4:25 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

Oh and Crist-

You’re not that popular, from what I’ve seen.

No chance of winning as an Indie from FL.

cs89 on February 25, 2010 at 4:26 PM

Does that still apply if Crist bolts the party?

Of course it does.

spmat on February 25, 2010 at 4:26 PM

Just drop out of the race, Crist. He better not split the vote and hand the seat to Meek. He’ll be a pariah with conservatives.

Doughboy on February 25, 2010 at 4:26 PM

Goodbye, Crist. You’ve been a horrible Governor.

Enoxo on February 25, 2010 at 4:26 PM

This looks more like a spoil sport move. Crist to Rubio: if I can’t win, neither can you. If true, he’s a colossal jerk.

jwolf on February 25, 2010 at 4:26 PM

Crist is toast, no matter what he does.

AUINSC on February 25, 2010 at 4:26 PM

Just drop out of the race, Crist. He better not split the vote and hand the seat to Meek. He’ll be a pariah with conservatives.

Doughboy on February 25, 2010 at 4:26 PM

He’ll pull a SSSSSSCCCOOOOZZZZAAFFFFFAAAAVVVAAA, watch. Drop out, and endorse Meek.

Enoxo on February 25, 2010 at 4:27 PM

“I’m taking my orange toys and going home!”

search4truth on February 25, 2010 at 4:27 PM

L-O-S-E-R

stenwin77 on February 25, 2010 at 4:27 PM

Is this the same Crist that John McCain endorsed?

PappaMac on February 25, 2010 at 4:28 PM

No non-republican can win in Florida without 90% of the black vote. With Meek in the race, even if his campaign is invisible, Crist would be lucky to get 25% of it. I don’t think the unions are crazy about Crist either.

BuzzCrutcher on February 25, 2010 at 4:28 PM

Crist was already done. But if he bolts the Republican party, he has NO future whatsoever in politics. He would be better off leaving the race, and considering a run later.

neoavatara on February 25, 2010 at 4:29 PM

Eh, this is probably a trial balloon….

If he’s going to bolt and do this then he probably has been offered a Plan B for when he loses…

He’s better off waiting till 2012…

ninjapirate on February 25, 2010 at 4:29 PM

The Washington establishment needs to stay out of primary races. This is how Arlen Spector got re-nominated the last time around. President Bush and the rest of the Washington republicans backed Spector over Toomey and Spector won the primary, got re-elected as a republican, and switched parties when it became convenient. Let’e learn the lesson – DC needs to stay the heck out of the primary process. Let it play out and then the NRSC can back the actual nominee.

t.ferg on February 25, 2010 at 4:29 PM

Is this the same Crist that John McCain endorsed?

PappaMac on February 25, 2010 at 4:28 PM

Yep…. isn’t the timing just…. delicious?

Romeo13 on February 25, 2010 at 4:29 PM

Conservatives need to keep the pressure up and keep outing the RINOs. It might hurt in the short term as these guys leave the party and take a few votes with them, but at least we’ll not be supporting liberals via the GOP. The ones that move over to dem side of the isle, will hopefully make them a little less liberal.

ClanDerson on February 25, 2010 at 4:29 PM

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?

Of course. Big tent or something.

SouthernGent on February 25, 2010 at 4:29 PM

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?

No can do.

AUINSC on February 25, 2010 at 4:29 PM

crist is a clown. he tried to destroy Rubio last night and it didnt work. Sorry guy nobody wants you.

ousoonerfan15 on February 25, 2010 at 4:30 PM

Culling the RINO heard.

Good news.

rickyricardo on February 25, 2010 at 4:30 PM

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

So you can split the vote three ways, and your favorite party (dem) wins.

Vashta.Nerada on February 25, 2010 at 4:30 PM

As the former boss would say, DLTDHYOTWO

rightside on February 25, 2010 at 4:31 PM

He aint Joe!

faol on February 25, 2010 at 4:32 PM

Idiot. He can lose with class and run against Nelson in less than a year. But if this is true, one thing for sure is that if a pol is not socially conservative then the chances of them backstabbing you goes up multiples.

TimTebowSavesAmerica on February 25, 2010 at 4:32 PM

Oh, and I think McCain will rethink support if Crist goes independent.

Oh, he’ll want to do it, but will probably realize he’s already in a harder primary fight than he’s used to. He’ll avoid shooting himself in the foot like that…

Unless he’s feeling particularly “Mavericky” at the time.

cs89 on February 25, 2010 at 4:33 PM

Rubio: Hey, why vote for a faux conservative when you can vote for a real one.

Speakup on February 25, 2010 at 4:33 PM

Crist, take McLame with you!!!!

Tim Burton on February 25, 2010 at 4:33 PM

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?

No, he loses all the conservative GOP support for his AZ bid at that moment. Payback for support in a GOP primary by supporting in a GOP primary is justifiable. Supporting the independent after he’s lost the GOP primary? Nope.

Repurblican on February 25, 2010 at 4:34 PM

McCain and the credit cards are the best news Gov. Crist has had in months and now he’s thinking of switching? That makes zero sense.

Cindy Munford on February 25, 2010 at 4:35 PM

Yup. Here’s to you Christ.

mizflame98 on February 25, 2010 at 4:35 PM

Given Crist’s record and the political winds…my bet is that he splits the Democrat vote, the indies Just Say No because they’re sick of the guy and we have Senator Rubio.

JohnTant on February 25, 2010 at 4:35 PM

If Crist leaves the GOP, McCain will need to switch his support. Or is John going to support an Independent over a Republican?

rbj on February 25, 2010 at 4:36 PM

Pretty desperate.

chunderroad on February 25, 2010 at 4:36 PM

Like I have been saying for months, Crist is another Specter wanna be.

He thinks that the Miami Herald and ACORN will be able to get the win for him.

tarpon on February 25, 2010 at 4:36 PM

What about the NRSC? Are there no contracts with these people guaranteeing party allegiance? Does Crist owe money back to people who thought they were contributing to a republican? This GOP apostacy needs to be punished hard.

Mark30339 on February 25, 2010 at 4:36 PM

Dead Governor Walking…

HBowmanMD on February 25, 2010 at 4:36 PM

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?

Because the Democrat brand sucks.

Proud Rino on February 25, 2010 at 4:37 PM

The human mind has a tough time accepting defeat. Look at Obama. It’s almost embarrassing

Punditpawn on February 25, 2010 at 4:37 PM

Maybe he just wants to be a spoiler and try to prevent a Republican win at all.

Midas on February 25, 2010 at 4:38 PM

We’d better be careful or some gubb’mint agency will put the RINO on the endangered species list and then where will we be.

Oldnuke on February 25, 2010 at 4:38 PM

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?

Count on it.

BTW, before you go, orange boy, we need any money you received from the party.

HornetSting on February 25, 2010 at 4:38 PM

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?

You never know–McCain might just look at helping Crist as another case of “reaching across the aisle” like he loves to do. Pardon me while I retch.

ReubenJCogburn on February 25, 2010 at 4:38 PM

Guess the CC “scandal” bombed.

Bye-bye!

gophergirl on February 25, 2010 at 4:41 PM

Is this what Crist meant by “no way I’m gonna lose this primary?”

KeepOhioRed on February 25, 2010 at 4:42 PM

Maybe he thinks that if his constituents are really stupid, and he runs as an “Independent” he’ll get Tea Partiers support instead of Rubio?

Buy Danish on February 25, 2010 at 4:43 PM

He’s done.

Oink on February 25, 2010 at 4:43 PM

He’s in denial. He can’t cope with people truly not liking him. He figures it’s just far-right ideologues in the GOP keeping him from the nomination, so he’ll easily win when he doesn’t need their approval.

He’s in for a rude, rude awakening.

amerpundit on February 25, 2010 at 4:43 PM

Another very interesting thing to watch, if this happens, is what the NRSC does… will they then whole-heartedly support Rubio?

KeepOhioRed on February 25, 2010 at 4:43 PM

Empty suit. RINO.

taney71 on February 25, 2010 at 4:43 PM

He might want to ask Benedict Arlen about that.

jukin on February 25, 2010 at 4:43 PM

Crist is done as a politician.

cubachi on February 25, 2010 at 4:44 PM

GO RUBIO!

upinak on February 25, 2010 at 4:44 PM

And Mccain is supporting Crist?Both of these dudes have got to go.I saw an article today where he said he supports climate change. These people don’t have a clue what their constituents want or care.

ohiobabe on February 25, 2010 at 4:44 PM

Oh, and this will just secure his image as a flip-flopping, unprincipled politician. That’s already how he’s being seen in the state.

amerpundit on February 25, 2010 at 4:44 PM

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?

What is the world coming to when Allah is more optimistic than Ace????

fiatboomer on February 25, 2010 at 4:44 PM

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

Arlen Specter…

Crist can kiss any centrist support goodbye if he goes Democrat. The only succesful independent run we have seen recently is Lieberman, that is Crist’s model.

Theworldisnotenough on February 25, 2010 at 4:44 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

The GOP sure knows how to pick winners, don’t they? That’s why they should let US pick the candidates.

Rubio has plenty of time and money. He’ll still win the general election.

You know what would be fun? If Rubio ran as an independent, also. It’d serve the GOP right for backing the RINO.

hawksruleva on February 25, 2010 at 4:44 PM

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?

Because the goal is to deny Rubio the seat by every means possible. If Crist could not win a primary, it’s likely he won’t be able to win a general election, even if Florida law allows him to run as a ‘Rat (could a local check on whether that’s possible?).

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

Because the Democrat brand sucks.

Proud Rino on February 25, 2010 at 4:37 PM

Be that as it may, a lot of voters vote party-line.

Allahpundit on February 25, 2010 at 4:45 PM

I’m going to have a beer for Marco Rubio tonight.

“The key to victory is to make your enemy surrender without fighting at all.”

—Sun Tzu

ted c on February 25, 2010 at 4:46 PM

And Mccain is supporting Crist?Both of these dudes have got to go.I saw an article today where he said he supports climate change. These people don’t have a clue what their constituents want or care.

ohiobabe on February 25, 2010 at 4:44 PM

And I didn’t even know climate change was running for anything.

I must admit that I also believe in climate change. But I believe it’s caused by that big yellow ball in the sky, not by bipeds on the ground.

hawksruleva on February 25, 2010 at 4:46 PM

OT, but is Obama really going to interfere more with the home foreclosure process?

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=ahuuwBS8KYq8

cs89 on February 25, 2010 at 4:47 PM

This only proves how out of touch with Florida voters Orange Powah is.

They’ll correctly detect this move as a desperate political attempt by Orange Powah.

In the end … Orange Crush.

HondaV65 on February 25, 2010 at 4:47 PM

hawksruleva on February 25, 2010 at 4:46 PM

Crist supports cap-and-trade, too.

amerpundit on February 25, 2010 at 4:48 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

A big chunk of independents are actually stubborn conservatives who believe the GOP isn’t serving their needs. Crist isn’t getting those folks.

Another chunk of conservatives are groups that traditionally don’t vote. The young, minorities. Crist isn’t getting those folks, either.

What’s that leave him? People to the left of the Democrat party, and real wafflers with no opinion on the issues. He’ll only get part of one of those groups.

hawksruleva on February 25, 2010 at 4:49 PM

Err- another chunk of INDEPENDENTS, I mean.

hawksruleva on February 25, 2010 at 4:49 PM

Crist supports cap-and-trade, too.

amerpundit on February 25, 2010 at 4:48 PM

Sad, isn’t it? I don’t know why Crist even bothers. He should think Florida will be underwater before his term ends, right?

hawksruleva on February 25, 2010 at 4:50 PM

Because the Democrat brand sucks.

Proud Rino on February 25, 2010 at 4:37 PM
Be that as it may, a lot of voters vote party-line.

Allahpundit on February 25, 2010 at 4:45 PM

Don’t waste your breath, AP. Proud Rino voted for obama.

HornetSting on February 25, 2010 at 4:50 PM

Best of luck to him!

Dark-Star on February 25, 2010 at 4:50 PM

“The key to victory is to make your enemy surrender without fighting at all.”

Sun Tzu Mitch McConnell

ted c on February 25, 2010 at 4:46 PM

OK, that was a little unfair :)

fiatboomer on February 25, 2010 at 4:51 PM

b-bye Crist. b-bye.

29Victor on February 25, 2010 at 4:51 PM

Man, if only the economy had turned around, you could have won Crist!

(At least that’s what Ah-nold says.)

Damn you tea partiers!

Thunderstorm129 on February 25, 2010 at 4:51 PM

That is exactly what the man will do. I think it’ll swing the election to Meeks, because both he and Crist will fire away at Rubio. I cannot believe that in a year where the GOP is poised to make huge gains this guy is set to muck it up.

Ugh.

changer1701 on February 25, 2010 at 4:51 PM

I was planning to write about Rubio’s credit-card “scandal” before the Crist news broke,

Allah, don’t take this as anything bad. But doesn’t this have the smell of what happened to Palin when she was Gov.?

Just a thought.

upinak on February 25, 2010 at 4:52 PM

hawksruleva on February 25, 2010 at 4:49 PM

I’d love to believe that analysis, but I seem to remember Florida being the key to McCain’s nomination in 2008.

Still, I didn’t say that Crist going third-party was going to be successful for the anti-Rubio forces. I said that it had a better chance of success than a full-on flip by Crist.

steveegg on February 25, 2010 at 4:54 PM

Be that as it may, a lot of voters vote party-line.

Allahpundit on February 25, 2010 at 4:45 PM

True – but both parties are pretty unpopular these days. It’s not the worst strategy, but his goose is probably cooked regardless.

Proud Rino on February 25, 2010 at 4:55 PM

Get out, Crist. GET OUT.

pabarge on February 25, 2010 at 4:56 PM

cs89 on February 25, 2010 at 4:47 PM

I think it’ll be sweet never to have to pay my mortgage again. Can’t wait! The time it’ll take paperwork to flow thru the government, I’ll be dead before it pops back out.

Especially if Obamacare passes.

lorien1973 on February 25, 2010 at 4:56 PM

I think these guys who switch parties to win really are sending a message. The perks are that good.

Think it’s time we reduce those perks.

AnninCA on February 25, 2010 at 4:58 PM

What a pile of crap. No wonder Jeb Bush is ripping him now.

therightwinger on February 25, 2010 at 4:59 PM

Who is the leading Republican for Governor?

If I were Crist (and chose to not commit hari kari) I would change my mind and run for re-election, rather than continue to run for a losing Senate seat.

Or have a “family” emergency and drop out of the race.

barnone on February 25, 2010 at 4:59 PM

Didn’t McCain endorse Schlesinger over Lieberman? I think if Crist left he’d probably switch to Rubio.

Mattpat11 on February 25, 2010 at 4:59 PM

Wow, this guy’s ego is trumping his brain.

Sure, he’d lose this go around, but if he sucked it up and waited, there are other offices he could have run for and won. Leaving the party like a little bitch assures he’ll never be elected to another office, ever.

Rebar on February 25, 2010 at 5:02 PM

Same ideals. Different jersey.

GTFO Charlie.

portlandon on February 25, 2010 at 5:02 PM

I wouldn’t be surprised if this was an Obama war room plot to sabotage Rubio, because he is seen as a threat to Obama and the Dems holding their Hispanic base intact.

technopeasant on February 25, 2010 at 5:03 PM

crist, meet dingy harry and join the 10.8%

rjoco1 on February 25, 2010 at 5:04 PM

MAYBE he should try the KamiKaze party …looks like he is on the crash and burn path

ELMO Q on February 25, 2010 at 5:05 PM

I wouldn’t be surprised if this was an Obama war room plot to sabotage Rubio, because he is seen as a threat to Obama and the Dems holding their Hispanic base intact.

technopeasant on February 25, 2010 at 5:03 PM

I think it probably helps Rubio, oddly enough. I think Crist will pull more from Democrats than Republicans. I don’t know if that’s what would actually happen, but that’s my suspicion.

Proud Rino on February 25, 2010 at 5:06 PM

I think these guys who switch parties to win really are sending a message. The perks are that good.

Think it’s time we reduce those perks.

AnninCA on February 25, 2010 at 4:58 PM

I must have played the Summit drinking game too well. I agree with you.

barnone on February 25, 2010 at 5:10 PM

Proud Rino on february 25, 2010 at 5:06 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

This pisses me off. I love Rubio. Crist must be defeated.

therightwinger on February 25, 2010 at 5:15 PM

And just think, Schwarznegger will keep claiming the Tea Party’s haven’t really changed anything.

manofaiki on February 25, 2010 at 5:19 PM

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