Huffpost Politics

Charlie Crist: National Republicans Predict 'Zero Chance' Florida Gov Will Stay In GOP Primary

Posted: Updated:
Print

UPDATE: In an exclusive interview with ABC affiliate WFTS in Tampa on Monday, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist acknowledged that he was considering dropping out of the GOP primary for Senate and running as an independent.

"The law gives you until April 30 to make such a declaration and I'm going to take my time and be as thoughtful as I need to be," Crist explained. "I'm getting a lot of advice in that direction and... I'm certainly listening to it."

When asked about his campaign pulling its television ads in Tampa and Orlando, Crist denied that the decision was yet another indicator that his GOP Senate bid was faltering.

"We're going to change it up a little bit and I wanted to highlight what we've been doing in the administration," he explained, adding that his campaign would soon hit the airwaves with new ads.

WATCH: Charlie Crist Talks About The Possibility Of Making An Independent Senate Run

An operative from the National Republican Senatorial Committee predicted on Monday that Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) would forfeit his primary battle against Marco Rubio for the state's Republican nomination for Senate.

In an e-mail obtained by CNN, Rob Jesmer, executive director of the NRSC, wrote to political operatives that Crist's surrender is imminent.

From Jesmer's e-mail:

We believe there is zero chance Governor Crist continues running in the Republican primary. It our view that if Governor Crist believes he cannot win a primary then the proper course of action is he drop out of the race and wait for another day. We have communicated this message indirectly and would have given it to the Governor directly had he returned Senator Cornyn's phone call.

Jesmer also explained that the NRSC would support former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio should Crist opt to run as an independent.

In an interview with the New York Times on Monday afternoon, Crist rejected any supposition that Jesmer's e-mail would impact his campaign's trajectory:

"It really doesn't have any impact at all," Mr. Crist said, referring to the memo. "What I think is right for me to do is to be guided by the people of Florida not by people in Washington D.C.

Sen. George LeMieux (R-Fla.), a former Crist adviser, shared his own take on the governor's political future.

LeMieux, who served as Chief of Staff to Crist before being appointed by the Florida governor to fill former Sen. Mel Martinez's Senate post when he resigned in 2008, projected that Crist will continue to run as a Republican candidate for Senate.

"I believe Charlie Crist will be a Republican in this race," LeMieux said during an appearance on MSNBC. "I'm not parsing words that carefully. My understanding is that he's a Republican who will run with the Republican Party -- not as an independent."

Jesmer and LeMieux's predictions come after a week filled with speculation over how Crist will direct his senatorial ambitions.

Is Crist finally ready to drop his bid for Senate as a Republican? Some indicators suggest that the Florida governor is inching closer to throwing in the towel. The St. Petersburg Times reported earlier today that Crist's campaign has halted airing television ads in Orlando and Tampa Bay -- key battleground markets.

In response to questions raised about the ads being pulled, campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said, "We don't comment on campaign tactics but like any campaign our television buy is constantly being adjusted and shifted."

Hotline on Call's Reid Wilson reports, "In taking the ads down, top GOP officials have surmised both that Crist has made his decision to run as an independent, and that the attacks weren't having an impact on the race."

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who chairs the NRSC, told Politico last week that Crist would be committing political suicide in the GOP if he opts to run for Senate as an independent.

As anticipation mounts ahead of Crist's decision, key political figures continue to weigh in on the political implications of his campaign's direction. It's anybody's guess as to how the Florida governor will act in the end, but until then, it seems that his looming decision will continue to shake-up the Republican Party.

Crist has until April 30 -- Florida's filing deadline -- to decide whether he will forgo running as a Republican and instead launch an independent bid for Senate.