Rumors swirl: Democrat set to drop out in Florida and endorse Charlie Crist?

Nothing concrete, but this nightmare scenario has been on our collective radar screen for so long that it only stands to reason that something must be up. Simply put, Meek can’t win; with less than a month to go, there’s no longer any doubt about it. Even if Crist dropped out and endorsed him, he’d probably still lose to Rubio as centrist Republicans in Crist’s camp tilted back towards the GOP nominee. Meek’s only role in this race at this point is to make Rubio’s path to the Senate nice and easy, which he’s doing a splendid job of.

This can’t go on. Democrats won’t ride this train off a cliff. Some sort of deal must be in the works. Dude, I’m nervous.

Across the state, groups such as Palm Beach Democrats for Crist and Tampa Democrats for Crist are emerging. Republican fears are further stoked by the almost universal acknowledgment that Mr. Meek has almost no chance to win. Statewide polling has his support in the teens and falling. His money coffers are all but dry. Democrats had hoped that when Mr. Crist abandoned the GOP for an independent run, it would split the Republican vote and propel Mr. Meek into the winner’s circle. With four weeks to go, no one believes that now. Mr. Meek, who is African-American, polls strongly only with black voters…

Mr. Crist has also refused to say which party he would caucus with if he wins. His latest nonanswer: “I will caucus with the people.” But Mr. Crist has met privately with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, adding to GOP paranoia that Democrats may be getting ready to throw the sure loser Mr. Meek over the side. One Republican Party leader tells me he wouldn’t be surprised to hear suddenly that “Meek was offered an ambassadorship from Barack Obama.” In late September, under pressure from black leaders in Florida, Vice President Biden was sent to stump for the four-term House member, but local Democrats have long doubted the depth of the White House’s commitment to the party’s candidate.

Not surprisingly, Crist saved his best (or rather, least lame) zingers at last night’s debate for Rubio and tea partiers. E.g., “You haven’t been drinking Kool-Aid, you’ve been drinking too much tea.” Here’s my question: Simply as a matter of personal pride, would Meek step aside for Crist at this point? He’s hit him awfully hard in ads for being a fair-weather conservative, and last night he actually compared him to George Wallace for blocking gay adoptions for years until recently having a conveniently timed change of heart. No doubt Meek’s not going to endorse him even if he does drop out, but he wouldn’t need to. Democrats will naturally line up behind the centrist candidate.

Is it already too late to remove Meek’s name from the ballot, though? I can’t remember a major party candidate quitting a race in October so I don’t know what that would mean for the polls on election day. But early voting in Florida starts in just 10 days or so. If Democrats want Meek out, it has to happen quickly and it has to be arranged that there’s no Democratic line on the ballot. Otherwise some base voters will pull the lever for “D” regardless, costing Crist precious votes.

I was going to post a clip from the debate but something tells me you’ll enjoy this one more.