The party-switching ex-Republican governor’s name had largely become a punch line in Florida political circles, but he’s now not only seriously pursuing a new gubernatorial campaign, each day new obstacles seem to almost miraculously fall out of his path.

His most formidable potential Democratic primary opponents – former state CFO Alex Sink and former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz – have quietly signaled they are leaning against running. In Sink’s case, that reluctance heightened after her husband, the well-liked Tampa attorney and former gubernatorial candidate Bill McBride, succumbed to a heart attack in December.

Crist has the admiration – and appreciation – of a White House that considered his 2012 endorsement key. And if party-jumping often leads to political oblivion, Crist is proving that timing is everything; not only does he seem to be cruising to the nomination, he would face an increasingly beleaguered incumbent, Gov. Rick Scott, who suddenly seems eminently beatable.

“It’s hard at the moment to imagine any scenario where Charlie Crist is not the Democratic nominee for governor in 2014,” said Democratic strategist Steve Schale, who was President Barack Obama’s senior adviser in Florida in 2012.