Blogger starting to despair over Florida Senate race

People keep telling me not to sweat it, that Crist’s support will start to crumble after the primaries as Democrats fall in line behind their nominee. But that scenario’s contingent in part on the nominee being Kendrick Meek, not Jeff Greene, whose eccentricity may well send Dem operatives scrambling into Sunshine Charlie’s camp. And lo and behold, look who’s opened up a 10-point lead:

In the race for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate, businessman Jeff Greene has jumped to a 33 – 23 percent lead over U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, with former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre at 4 percent. But 35 percent are undecided and 54 percent of those who name a candidate say they might change their mind…

“If there was any doubt that enough money can make a political unknown into a front- runner, the Democratic Senate primary and the Republican primary for governor should lay them to rest,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute…

“Anything can happen in the interim, but since their opponents are unlikely to outspend them down the home stretch, they are both in enviable positions,” Brown added. “Both men also are being helped by the national anti-incumbent, anti-establishment wave evident in other primaries. Both men have battled their respective party hierarchies, quite successfully at this point.”

Meek led by two points last month before Greene’s money machine got rolling; I’m almost afraid to see what the lead will be next month. Not grim enough for you? Well, there’s another reason to worry: Crist actually polls unusually well for a Republican among black voters in Florida, which won’t matter so much if Meek is the Democratic nominee but could matter a lot if Greene is.

Crist, who is commonly referred to by allies as the state’s “first African-American governor,” has a long history of making inroads with black voters. He was the first GOP governor in the state to accept a convention invitation from the National Association for the NAACP, and last year he appointed a black judge to the state Supreme Court over a favorite of social conservatives. This spring, he vetoed legislation that would have cracked down on teacher tenure, a move that was panned by conservatives but well-received in city school districts…

Tom Eldon, a Democratic pollster who worked on Jim Davis’ 2006 gubernatorial campaign, said a Greene victory would also immediately make him a villain among Democrats who hoped he could become the first African-American senator to represent a southern state since Reconstruction.

“If not for Meek, Crist was in as good of a position as a former Republican governor could be to compete for these votes,” said Eldon. “Enter Greene as someone with a checkered past, no connections to the community and having, according to this scenario, defeated Meek in a nasty primary, Crist could expect to do very well.”

If Greene wins the nomination, the path to victory for Crist is clear: Woo as many black Democrats as possible, promise to caucus with the Dems if elected in exchange for help from Democratic fundraisers and strategists, then count on a coalition of Dems and centrist Republicans to carry you to a 40/35/25 win over Rubio and Greene. Oh, and in the meantime, don’t say anything about any hot-button subject lest it be used against you; as you’ll see below, that part of the strategy is, quite pathetically, already in full effect. Exit question: Is it time to worry? Inquiring eeyores want to know.