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Florida Gov. Crist Considers Senate Race

Fla. Gov. Charlie Crist has made no secret of his national ambitions and may see the 2010 Senate race as the best next step. (AP Photo/Phil Coale)

Florida Republican Gov. Charlie Crist is considering a run for the Sunshine State's open Senate seat although he remains a long shot to run, according to informed sources in the state and in Washington.

Jim Greer, the chairman of the Florida Republican party and a close ally of Crist, said that "whether [Crist] is going to actually run for the Senate is a decision that will be made down the road because he doesn't want to take his eye off the ball, which is serving the people of Florida as governor."

No final decision is expected from Crist until the legislative session in Florida concludes in early May, said those familiar with the governor's thinking. Crist would not, under any circumstances, appoint himself to a Senate vacancy if Martinez were to step aside early, those same sources made clear today.

Crist, a popular governor in the third year of his first term, would become an immediate frontrunner in the primary and general election due to his statewide name identification and significant popularity even among Independents and some Democrats.

The news was first reported by Roll Call newspaper -- the Fix's alma mater.

The Florida seat is being vacated by Sen. Mel Martinez (R) after a single term. (The Roll Call story said Martinez was considering resigning his seat before his term ends but sources close to the senator insist that is inaccurate.) Both parties saw their top recruits step aside over the last month with former Gov. Jeb Bush (R) and state CFO Alex Sink (D) taking passes on the contest.

With those two 800-pound gorillas out of the running, the expectation had been that the Democratic and Republican primaries would be crowded affairs.

On the Democratic side, Rep. Kendrick Meek and state Sen. Dan Gelber are already in the race and Reps. Allen Boyd and Ron Klein are reportedly considering the contest.

For Republicans, the list of potential candidate is long with Reps. Vern Buchanan and Connie Mack IV as well as former state House Speaker Marco Rubio considered the most serious candidates.

Crist's decision to look at the contest likely freezes the field -- particularly on the Republican side -- for the foreseeable future.

Those who have followed Crist's career closely suggest two main reasons for his consideration of the Senate opening: the possibility of it as a potent 2012 perch and the reality that he would be term limited out as governor in 2014.

Crist has made no secret of his national ambitions; he was all-but-openly campaigning to be Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) vice presidential nominee and clearly retains an interest in running for president in 2012. It's possible that Crist and his team believe that the Senate would give him a broader palette of issues on which to battle with President Barack Obama and emerge as a leading national voice for a party badly in need of them.

The other consideration for Crist is the realization that he will be term limited out as governor in six years time and may never have as good an opportunity to run for and serve in the Senate as he does in 2010. Should Crist's national ambitions come up short, the Senate would provide a far smoother re-insertion into political life than the final two years of his second term as governor.

Regardless of the reasons behind his interest, it's clear that Crist is at least mulling the possibility. And that is big news on the 2010 Senate landscape.

By Chris Cillizza  |  February 2, 2009; 3:58 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Too bad the political party he hangs after his name is controlled by the English-speaking wing of the Worldwide Taliban Movement. If he were in a modern party like the Democratic Party, he might be able to get in on his merits. We have proven that we will take a serious look at a woman, a multiracial man and an Hispanic governor.

But Crist has to get past the Taliban defenses, and that ain't easy. We still haven't rounded up all of their Pashtun-speaking chapters over in central Asia. Maybe some day they will be eradicated here at home as well, but not by 2012. Sorry Charlie.

Posted by: B2O2 | February 3, 2009 10:31 PM | Report abuse

I never liked MelMart...I guess that being a FL resident, I could go along...Crist's office was helpful and polite to me during a recent problem that I had concerning the Reserve Management Fund Failure Disaster. Many of the other FL government offices were not so helpful.

Posted by: newbeeboy | February 3, 2009 7:58 AM | Report abuse

Crist would be a Mark Warner-level favourite if he got into the race, so Democrats should hope he doesn't. Though, silver lining would be that the path would be clear for Alex Sink to be elected governor.

Posted by: SeanC1 | February 2, 2009 11:20 PM | Report abuse

@ whymeat:

I'm not condemning Crist for being gay. Quite the contrary. I hope he is at peace with himself and if he is gay, wish he were a member of a party that would accept him for who he is.

I do condemn a person for holding positions against gays when they themselves are gay. THAT'S being hypocritical. But I guess that's what you have to do when you are a member of the repub party.

Its a shame that an openly gay or lesbian could never win a repub primary. For the repub party, being gay is an immediate deal breaker.

Posted by: PeixeGato1 | February 2, 2009 10:48 PM | Report abuse

I think that Charlie Crist has only ever completed a full term only once before jumping up the ladder. He cannot complete any project and jumps ship before he has ever accomplished anything or succeeded with any issue. He is incapable of completing a project and hopes that by moving from office to office before he has to complete anything no one will notice.

Posted by: dschauer | February 2, 2009 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Looks like Crist has blue teeth.

Crist will never win anything other than the Govs seat. The Republicans will never knowingly elect a gay man to represent them again. They won't take the chance of having a Mark Foley or Larry Craig incident come back and bite them in the arse again.

Plus, most Repugs are bigots anyway.

Posted by: DrainYou | February 2, 2009 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Why is it that lefties always want to promote privacy in the bedroom but then they are the first to out people or smear them because of their personal lives. Unless you have been naked with Charlie Crist or done the deed with him then you don't know. It is just rumour mongering and more politics of personal destruction. Leave him alone and let him live his life. What he dies in the bedroom it is not your business. Hypocrites!

Posted by: whymeat | February 2, 2009 8:39 PM | Report abuse

I and millions like me will make it our personal quest to see that no more Republicans are elected and sent to Washington to do any more damage to this Country!

Posted by: karenbe111 | February 2, 2009 7:44 PM | Report abuse

If this will get him out of the governorship then I am all in favor of this. This state has be going to hell in a hand basket ever since Jeb got in control and started to privatize everything. Now the legislator is slashing the budget and defunding K-12 and higher education while they still allow the corporate tax cuts. So I'm all in favor of Crist running for senate in 2010 and hopefully Sink would run for Governor. I think only Former senator Bob Graham could beat Crist if he ran. It would be a 1996 rematch but there is a 0% chance that Graham would run.

Posted by: jae1227 | February 2, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse


Crist would be an overwhelming favorite.

Posted by: jimd52 | February 2, 2009 6:11 PM | Report abuse

If he stops paying his taxes now, he will be qualified in time.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | February 2, 2009 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: ahfdemocrat | February 2, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

His bride was given away by her two young daughters and for their sake I hope the marriage is not a sham and that the gossip does not reach them.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 2, 2009 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Run Charlie, Run, give up that Governorship,

Run Alex Run for Governor!

Posted by: sjxylib | February 2, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

But wait, how can he be gay if he got married to a woman??

HA HA HA. One day Repubs will see the light and stop with their biggoted attitude toward gays and lesbians. Its only hurting the party. Here's the big question though, I wonder if Crist himself has accepted that he is gay and there is nothing he can do to change that.

Posted by: PeixeGato1 | February 2, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Crist didn't just get married again for nothing ...

Posted by: mnteng | February 2, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Crist will only do reasonably well until the Republicans figure out what everybody else already knows - that Charlie Crist is gay.

Then they'll abandon him in droves.

Posted by: Heerman532 | February 2, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Optimyst and JimD - Crist runs, Crist wins, right?

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 2, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

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