Charlie Crist will abandon the Republican Party and run as an Independent for the open Florida Senate seat.
He's done this partly because he's far more centrist than Republican primary voters, but also because he would've gotten wrecked. His opponent, Marco Rubio, has held a consistent 20+ point lead on Crist in polling and is the darling of the Tea Party.
Here's how some pollsters have the race:
Crist as an independent:
Charlie Crist (I) 29 (32)
Marco Rubio (R) 32 (27)
Kendrick Meek (D) 27 (31)
There are a few interesting things this brings up:
1. How will Crist raise money? The campaign committees will give him nothing. Other legislators will give him nothing.
2. Will Crist declare how he will caucus? We discussed this in class briefly on Monday. If he declared that he was going to caucus with Democrats, I could see the Democratic establishment urging Meek to drop out of the race to clear a path to Crist's victory. If he declared he would caucus with Republicans, it would eat into the Democratic vote he almost certainly needs to garner a plurality. If he declared he would caucus with the Senate majority, he'll almost certainly be caucusing with Dems.
3. Will it be Meek or Crist in 3rd place? If it comes close to the election and it's clear that one candidate just is not appealing to voters/won't come close to winning [something like Rubio 40, Crist 40, Meek 20], then the third candidate's voters will bolt to someone with a chance. If the third placer is Meek, and Meek is far back enough in the polls, Crist can win.
No matter what happens, Florida just became interesting. Meek just got a breath of life and if Crist announces he will caucus with Democrats - which is smart electorally since he's already lost Republican support - then Democrats have two bites at the apple in this one.