Green Room

Crist arrives at the Rubi(o)con

posted at 4:15 pm on April 8, 2010 by

Charlie Crist has to know, deep down inside, that a veto of the proposed merit pay plan for teachers (endorsed by Jeb Bush, no less) would signal the effective end of his candidacy for the GOP Senate nomination.  This potential veto was noted earlier, as were several other moves which appear to signal an independent run.  And now, his very un-Shermanesque dodge when cornered by Chris Wallace is made clear.  ”I will run as a Republican”, indeed!

I can’t imagine that Crist would even consider this veto without examining its optics and reverberations…especially after supporting teacher merit pay as a gubernatorial candidate in 2006.  Why would he subject himself to the aggravation of a Kerryesque flip-flop on an issue that is such a winner in GOP circles (and the scrutiny such a reversal would invite)…unless he’s concluded that the primary is already lost?  Surely, the “Charlie was for teacher merit pay before he was against it” ad writes itself (and I’d bet Team Rubio already has it in the can, locked and loaded).  Given how much heat he’s already taken for his prior positions, I just don’t see how he stays in the GOP race after what will surely play as an act of appeasement of a labor union.  It’s like the end of Lesnar-Mir II.  You know it’s over, it’s just a matter of time before the ref calls it.

Charlie Crist is no political novice.  He has coveted this Senate seat since 1996, and appeared to be a mortal lock for the GOP nomination in the months following the Obama inauguration.  However, he has since proven himself to be the wrong man for the wrong seat at the wrong time.  With his appointment of George LeMieux, he may have also boxed himself out of a run in 2012 (in which he would have likely crushed Bill Nelson).  There is a small chance, of course, that Crist stays true to his original position and signs this bill into law.  But it would mean a disavowal of everything he’s tried to build for the last 4+ years.  He will soon discover that it ain’t easy being a Maverick (or not being one at all).

After the Stimulus hug and everything thereafter, I have a hard time envisioning a scenario in which Charlie Crist can win the GOP Senate nomination following a veto of a teacher’s merit pay plan (unless Rubio turns into Tiger Woods or Bernie Madoff).  After all the dodges, and all the hedging, Charlie Crist is faced with a true litmus test, something he must confront directly (as opposed to his positions on Federal items such as Stimulus or healthcare).  There is no “I support what helps the people” dodge available here…it’s sign or walk.  Accountability versus Appeasement.  Either he curbs an aggressive government employee union (at the expense of angering Democrats and some Independents), or he appeases them (and hopes to pull enough Dems and Indies to win a 3-man race).  This bill is Charlie Crist’s political Rubicon.  I expect him to cross it.

UPDATE: 4/15

And today, of all days, Crist trips the wire.  I don’t question the timing at all.

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Great headline.

aengus on April 8, 2010 at 4:26 PM