To be, or not to be -- that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous primary defeat or take up the arms of an independent, against a sea of partisan troubles and by opposing political parties, end them. This is the soliloquy Florida Governor Charlie Crist confronted, not facing a skull, but his well tanned self in the mirror.
This story began at the political beginning, which in Florida means outer space. In 2009 Charlie was the most guaranteed favorite to win the U.S. Senate in all of America. Las Vegas odds-makers proclaimed that there was a greater chance Fox News would win an Emmy for veracity before Governor Crist would lose.
Thinking back just a few years ago Charlie was so popular he was considered Vice-Presidential "timber." In fact, he was seen so often with John and Cindy McCain, many presumed he had been recently adopted by the family. The positive public relations machine was spinning very well. Upon the Governor's initial arrival in Israel, the Jerusalem Post had a typo on their front page story. The Post (no not "Washington") proclaimed the coming of "Christ." We all knew most politicians think they are "deity like", but this smacks of karma.
In 2009 the National and Florida Republican Party thought Charlie Crist was the greatest thing since Rush Limbaugh sans the pills of, course. In fact, the Republican Senatorial Committee gave a very rare, early endorsement. No Democrat need bother to run; and certainly not any foolish Republican. Well, as the economy began to sour, so did the attitudes towards poor Charlie.
Jeb Bush, our former Republican Governor was becoming politically irrelevant and sought an outlet for his restlessness. His answer was to anoint Marco Rubio, an Hispanic former legislator from Miami; to run in a primary against "Americas" Governor. At the time it seemed foolish to believe that Jeb's "pet rock," would gain any political traction. Soon the "Tea Party" gave Marco a home in which to launch his career. Perhaps they also had nothing else to do. Or, it was too much caffeine during their tea parties.
Soon it was apparent Governor Charlie's "moderate" position was disturbing. Additionally, his famous President Obama hug while accepting stimulus dollars was viewed by the extremely conservative Florida Republican primary voter as unforgivable. Of course, if I was given such significant monies the hug might have been the least of it. The Florida political heat and humidity had proven to be too much for our "cool" Governor. Much like summers in South Florida, the race became hot, sticky, and unbearable.
It was now apparent that a forty point poll advantage had shrunk to a significant deficit with a primary loss inevitable. Not good for any ambitious, incumbent Governor. What to do? Republicans told Charlie get out, you are a disgrace. But if you do, we will support you for the Senate, in the other seat in 2012 against Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson. In other words, you are a political bum today; but you can be our guy again in two short years.
It is this political schizophrenia that has encouraged the American voter to justifiably hate everyone. Great! Sounds similar to an old Jackie Mason routine. I love you, I hate you, I like you, by the way, who are you? Or the old political phrase, "I was for you; before I was against you."
A political calculation had to be made to avoid an inglorious end. But wait, up in the sky, it's a bird, a plane, no it's the magic cloak of independency. In a year when the "outsider" is popular; Charlie could play the outsider/insider game. Hey, I am not the incumbent Senator: I was only the Governor. I vetoed the onerously bad bills from that evil Republican Legislature. Bills that punish teachers, pregnant women, and the almost extinct liberal Democrat. A candidacy as a registered Independent was the only choice.
Soon "luck" circled back to Charlie with the advent of a horrible oil spill, (thanks BP). The possibility of it reaching the Florida territory provided millions of dollars in free media. Charlie was circumspect, in command, executive like, and still tan. With each passing day, as the oil grew closer, the Governor appeared on every cable station, every radio show and an occasional CVS drugstore opening. Now the polls have begun to indicate that he could win a general election.
The Republican nominee, Marco Rubio, made the classic mistake. He peaked too early. About three months too early. Previously, if Charlie lost in the Republican Primary he would be finished. Then a traditional match up between the Democrat and Republican nominee could occur; thus more predictable. But, an Independent could attract voters from everywhere. Now he is threatening the Bush-Rubio legacy. The "madhatter" Tea Party was too successful at their game. Obviously, once you are on the front page of the National Review ( a la Marco) - game called; if you are a Republican.
We Floridians love to be Number 1. It does not matter what the category, as long as we are "it." Our state has now become a national political petri dish, for independent campaigns.
This has been fueled by the previously noted vetoes; which might energize traditionally Democratic groups. Obviously our party has a rich history of political cannibalism. Our task is to reject that hunger urge. Good luck to us!