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Charlie Crist Campaign Denies Rumors Of An Independent Run For Florida Senate

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UPDATE: Florida Gov. Charlie Crist's Senate campaign pushed back on rumors that he will run as an independent rather than a Republican, blaming "the Rubio campaign's continual attempts to distract voters" for the latest scuttlebutt.

"To put these rumors to rest once and for all, as we have said countless times before, Governor Crist is running for the United States Senate as a Republican," Crist Campaign Manager Eric Eikenberg said in a statement. "He will not run as an Independent or as a No Party Affiliation."

There has been growing speculation that Crist, who continues to trail Rubio in the polls may be looking to drop out of the GOP primary.

Rubio announced Wednesday that he'd raised a whopping $3.6 million in the first 90 days of 2010, the St. Petersburg Times reports.

Rubio's fundraising haul has helped fuel the rumors about whether Crist would run as an independent candidate, and The Times found other evidence too:

This just a day after Gov. Charlie Crist bucked fellow Republicans and vetoed an elections bill he was expected to sign -- and the same day he reversed course and hinted he might veto a teacher tenure bill favored by Jeb Bush and other Republican leaders. On top of that, Crist plans to call the Legislature into special session this summer to overhaul state ethics laws -- an issue Republican leadership has avoided this year.

If Crist goes through with his plan to veto the Jeb Bush-backed teacher bill, it may be the last straw in the governor's Senate bid as a Republican candidate, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

"If Crist carries through with the veto threat, Jeb will endorse Marco in short order and Charlie will have no friends left in the party's hierarchy. That means no money, no endorsements, no nothing. His odds of winning in August will go from real slim to less than none barring some major revelation about Marco."

According the St. Petersburg Times, Crist would have until April 30 to change his party affiliation and run as an independent or remove his party affiliation altogether. If he were to do this, Crist could maintain his position as a registered Republican and use his campaign war chest in the general election instead of the primary.

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