He’s Back: Charlie Crist backs Democrat in Florida Senate race
A little more than two years ago, then-Gov. Charlie Crist, in an effort to avoid what would have been primary loss to Marco Rubio, decided to leave the Republican Party and run for United States Senate as an Independent. During the campaign, Crist had come under fire for backing President Barack Obama’s stimulus bill and being a tax hiker. Crist was apparently so desparate, he met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and said that he would caucus with Democrats if elected.
Because of his more moderate economic positions and perception as a stereotypical politician — someone who will change positions out of convenience, Crist became the poster boy of what grassroots conservatives loathe in Republican politics. During the Senate primary in Texas, which eventually saw Tea Party favorite Ted Cruz walk away victorious, grassroots conservatives began using “Dewcrist” to knock the squishiness of David Dewhurst.
But Crist hasn’t change much over the past couple of years. Still bitter that Rubio and conservative groups worked hard to defeat him, Crist has endorsed Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) in his race for re-election against Rep. Connie Mack (R-FL) and will appear at a fundraiser with Bill Clinton for the incumbent Democrat:
Former Gov. Charlie Crist, a former Republican, said Wednesday he is backing Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson’s re-election campaign - a race in which he’ll likely face the son of Crist’s longtime political mentor.
Crist plans to attend a Nelson fundraiser Thursday at the home of his boss, lawyer John Morgan of the firm Morgan & Morgan. Former president Bill Clinton will be the featured speaker. Crist said he plans to donate money to Nelson’s campaign and will vote for him in November.
“Senator Nelson has been a friend, he and Grace both,” Crist said, referring to Nelson’s wife. “It’s no knock on Connie.”
Nelson’s deputy campaign manager Marley Wilkes said, “The event will feature President Clinton and be attended many officials including the former governor. And we’re glad to have all their support.”
Mack’s campaign responded to the news with three words.
“Is anyone surprised?” said Mack spokesman David James.
The latest poll out of Florida from Public Policy Polling shows that Nelson is in a virtual tie with Mack, at 45-43. What’s more, Nelson’s approval rating is underwater at 35/40. Mack is also doing well with independent voters in the state, a group that could tip the race in either direction, leading 45/38.
Crist can say it’s not a knock on Mack, but he is obviously seeking revenge against the GOP for his embarassing loss in 2010. Nelson has been previously targeted by Republicans with no luck. but Florida is expected to be a battleground state this year, just as it has been in previous presidential election years. And with Republicans having good fortunes in the state in 2010, they feel that Nelson could be picked off if the circumstances are right.
As far as the endorsement goes, Crist already had already squandered his credibility in Florida. Whatever impact this will have, it’ll be marginal.