Is it way too soon to start speculating about the 2014 midterm elections? Yes. But in Florida, where glabrous grifter Gov. Rick Scott recently hit a 29 percent approval rating nadir, Democrats are already excitedly talking about turning him out. And while they have a host of prospects to choose from, the most intriguing chatter centers on the possibility that Charlie Crist may want his old job back -- and perhaps mount a run as a Democrat.
"Charlie Crist is the wild card in this whole thing," said Democratic consultant Steve Schale, who led Obama's Florida campaign in 2008 and worked for [Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex] Sink in 2010. "It's hard to say how Democrats would react to Crist switching parties, but if he was thinking about it I think he would find a base of support."
I mean, Crist has been every other kind of candidate. Why not run as a Democrat and call it Yahtzee? Here's how this would look:
Consider one scenario a number of Democratic strategists see as more than plausible: Crist, still popular outside of conservative Republican circles, endorses Obama and helps his campaign in Florida in 2012. He parlays that goodwill into another gubernatorial campaign and Democrats desperate to rid Florida of Rick Scott welcome a moderate statewide figure who looks like a winner.
"That would be enormously exciting. He has the statewide name recognition and he's someone who looks out for the people," said state Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg. "The Democratic party is the big tent party, and I can't see why they wouldn't embrace Charlie Crist."
Okay, sure. I have to wonder why there isn't already someone in that big tent who's capable of mounting a campaign against someone with a 29 percent approval rating, though. (I also think that we'll be able to more properly gauge how unpopular Scott is if he draws a primary challenger.)
But if you're looking for people who are only too ready to officially anoint Crist as a Democrat, you need look no further than Florida Republicans. Adam Hasner, who
currently represents represented Florida's 87th District in the state House up until 2010, is angling to follow Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) to Washington, and he's treading the same path Rubio blazed: criticizing incumbent Republican George LeMieux by linking him to Crist, and criticizing Crist by linking him to the Democrats.
So, were Crist to run for governor again, it's certainly plausible he'd run as a Democrat, as the GOP has all but run him out of the Party. What's less plausible, of course, is the notion that he'd run at all. Per Smith:
Now a personal injury lawyer and TV pitchman, Crist tells anyone who asks or urges, and many do, that he's happy in private life.
Obviously, I have lingering doubts about this.