Charlie Crist: He'll Be Coming Round the Mountain When He Comes
Around the State
If I were smart, I'd stop speculating what Charlie Crist is going to do. He's going to do what Charlie Crist always does -- wait to see which way the wind blows, then let us know.
He'll be coming round the mountain when he comes.
We can be sure of only one thing. Charlie's days as the pretty face for a big-name personal injury lawyer like John Morgan are numbered. It's no secret along the I-4 corridor that Carole Crist, who didn't marry Charlie so he could line his pockets chasing ambulances, wants her husband back in high-profile politics. And pronto.
Which, incidentally, is just as well. By all accounts, Florida's 44th governor doesn't practice much, if any, law at the firm. Actually, when I called Morgan & Morgan, nobody there could name me a single Charlie Crist case in the last two years. What the folks there did tell me is that the firm's investment in Charlie has paid off. His billboards up and down Florida highways suck clients in like a giant sand dredge, and Morgan -- a significant donor to the Democratic Party -- is likely to help launch Charlie's career as a cash-carrying Dem.
For a while, Charlie thought the wind was blowing him back into the governor's mansion. After all, Rick Scott's approval ratings were bunched down around his ankles, the Dems' candidate cupboard looked bare, and talk of any Scott challenge in 2012 invariably turned to Charlie as the Democrats' last and best hope to reclaim leadership in Tallahassee.
But then he spoke at the Democratic National Convention as a maverick, a Republican turned independent who now backs "good for Florida" Democrat incumbent Barack Obama. It was clear he believed the delegates would rise to cheer him wildly. That didn't happen. Even when he said, "I didn't leave the Republican Party, the Republican Party left me," the reception was at best polite.
Charlie expected, perhaps even relished, the outrage he conjured among Republicans. What he didn't expect was the Democrats' disdain, not only in Florida, but in the liberal-leaning mainstream press.
Summing up "Charlie Crist: A Sorry Legacy," his piece in HuffPost the day after the Democratic National Convention, journalist Eli Lehrer said this: "The bottom line is simple: Charlie Crist was a bad governor and appears to have no core political principles. While his speechifying may help President Obama and the Democrats, they should learn what Republicans have found out through painful experience: Charlie Crist is a political opportunist with a sorry legacy."
And in the polls? Charlie's not faring that well.
His only blow-away winner came from a little-known outfit from his hometown, St. Pete Polls. It came out right after the Democratic National Convention and it gave Charlie 61 percent of likely Democratic voters, followed by former Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink with 25 percent support. The poll was widely dismissed as an outlier with flaws -- it had no undecided voters in a theoretical race two years away.
A survey last week from Public Policy Polling found that Crist's favorable-unfavorable ratings are good but not great: 44-33 percent.
Then, on Thursday, a poll conducted for the Tampa Bay Times, Miami Herald and their affiliates had Democrat Alex Sink -- not Charlie Crist -- defeating Gov. Rick Scott in a 2014 governor’s election. Conducted by Mason-Dixon, the poll showed Sink beating Scott 47 percent to 39 percent, and Charlie essentially tied with Scott.
But, never mind. Charlie always knows where the camera is.
Which brings us to an option Charlie and Carole might like for themselves. An appointment within President Barack Obama's administration. Should Obama win re-election, should he take Florida to boot, Charlie Crist might be invited to cream a goodie off the top of the victory cake.
Charlie is in full, notice-me hugging mode, visible on virtually every stage, sidling up to the Obama campaign team, self-aggrandizing to muster a crowd for the Democrats' benefit, whatever it takes.
He was last seen as one of 85 guests headed into a $20,000-per-person fundraising reception in Tampa, his right arm draped around a city socialite.
Meanwhile, Ronald Casey, a Democrat from St. Petersburg Beach, told me he has a good idea how Obama might use Charlie Crist: "We've got several openings at embassies in the Middle East."
Charlie's going to be coming round some mountain or other. It's just a question of which one and how long it will take him to decide.
Reach Nancy Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (850) 727-0859.