Charlie Crist is throwing his name around for the Senate in 2016 but Democrats seem to want as little to do with him as possible.
Not too long after Crist started talking about yet another Senate campaign, Democrats started placing their bets elsewhere. On Thursday, a day after Crist floated his name and said he was being encouraged to run, Politico reported Democrats are lining up behind Patrick Murphy while Debbie Wasserman Schultz appeared likely to stay out of the race.
Thats good news for Democrats. Murphy has the look of a rising star for Democrats and his moderate record wont turn off moderates the way Wasserman Schultz would in the general election. Its telling that Murphy has carried a swing district twice where Republicans have a slight advantage, outworking Allen West in 2012 and simply destroying Carl Domino last year in a rare bright spot for Democrats. The Beltway Democrats starting to drift over to Murphy, including Harry Reid, have plenty of reasons to do so.
Its also good news for Hillary Clinton. The Democrats need Florida in 2016 and, following his losses in 2010 and 2014, Crist would have a hard time rounding up votes. Indeed, one of the chief reasons Crist lost in 2014 was by underpeforming in traditionally strong Democratic areas in Broward County and Miami. Clinton, or whoever the Democrats nominate for president, cant afford that kind of risk in the largest swing state. Murphy might not be well-known but he certainly wont carry the kind of baggage Crist does in South Florida and other areas the Democrats need. Crist was also very critical of Bill Clinton, even calling for his resignation, when he ran for the Senate in 1998 -- something Republicans will be sure to point out if Crist runs yet again.
Wasserman Schultz can also profit from Murphy eclipsing Crist on the Democratic side. Shes too liberal to really be competitive for the Senate race, even if women come out in full force to vote for Clinton in 2016. Wasserman Schultz isnt 50 yet and still has some prospects of leading Democrats in the House, especially since Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer, not exactly the biggest fans of the Florida congresswoman, are in their 70s. Wasserman Schultzs path to power looks a lot clearer in the House than running for the Senate.
Crist has certainly undercut more than his share of Democrats over the years. Even after he left the GOP, Crist pulled the rug out from under Kendrick Meek by staying in the Senate race in 2010 with no party affiliation. Crist refused to debate Nan Rich in last years primary and ended up short of votes in her home turf of Broward County. Now Crist is getting a little of the same treatment.
Despite it all, Crist may run. He certainly wants to get to the Senate twice having run twice before -- as a Republican in 1998 against Bob Graham and his 2010 debacle. Indeed, Crist gave up an easy layup to win a second term as governor in 2010 to run for the Senate. Sure, a Crist Senate bid in 2016 would only hurt the Democrats. But then party-jumping, position-changing Charlie Crist has shown little regard for anyone besides himself during his political career.
Tallahassee-based political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.