What if Crist had stayed put in 2010?

The venerable and incomparable Steve Bousquet asked the question in the St Pete Times the other day what would have happened in Florida had Crist run for reelection in 2010?

My view is that Crist may have as Bousquet stated stayed a moderate Republican, at least nominally. But it is also entirely possible with the Tea Party wave that was sweeping the state and nation at the time that Crist would have positioned himself further to the right on the political spectrum as he did in the middle of 2009 when he was running for the US Senate. Even if he did this, it would be a temporary shift based on poll numbers.

Crist undoubtedly gets reelected against a weak second or third-tier Democratic challenger in 2010. He then shifts from Tea Party Republican (if he has in fact gone down that road) to media savvy consensus builder after the 2012 Presidential Election and holds the current legislature’s feet to the fire over a few issues he can exploit in public while eyeing the White House. At the same time he stays strongly conservative on other issues simply rubber stamping what the legislature does. He picks and chooses his fights wisely based on polling and the political winds. The media falls in love with him all over again, and with the backing of the third largest state in the nation Crist launches a formidable Presidential bid months after he leaves office in early 2015.

Crist runs as an establishment Republican with extensive executive experience, which means he ends up taking a hybrid of positions some of which are mainstream and some which are extremely conservative. He is considered a front-runner for the nomination along with the nation’s leading budget hawk, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan who has wisely declined the opportunity to run with Mitt Romney in 2012. The Tea Party favorite Rand Paul is thought to be a fringe candidate.

Marco Rubio in the meantime runs for the US Senate and wins the election against the Democrat, be that Kendrick Meek or someone like Dan Gelber. But Rubio’s national profile which was elevated by the battle with Crist does not rise quickly enough to make him a national leader or potential 2016 candidate. Jeb Bush is drowned out by the Crist media juggernaut and the fatigue of his family name, leaving Crist as the only potential 2016 Presidential candidate from Florida on the GOP side. Bush continues to be a leader of the conservative education movement but is not considered a Presidential contender.  Crist remains popular enough that Democrats have little chance of winning Florida if he is the nominee in 2016.

In contrast to what Bousquet thinks, I am fairly certain Alex Sink is defeated in her attempt to be reelected as CFO if Crist stays on as Governor in 2010. While she may not have attracted a top-tier challenger, 2010 was such a Republican year up and down the ballot in Florida. I think even a second-tier GOP challenger wins the office in the Republican tide we saw that year.  Crist staying put also means the GOP is running stronger at the top of the ticket with Marco Rubio likely winning against a Democrat by 6-8 points and Crist winning by more than that.

In 2014, businessman Rick Scott, Attorney General Bill McCollum and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam face off in an epic primary which Putnam likely wins. He rolls over what is probably a nominal Democrat in the General, someone who runs simply to be a sacrificial lamb and to increase personal name ID.  If Scott is nominated, the Democrat suddenly has a chance and McCollum maybe just finds a way to lose to the Democrat if he is the nominee.

Sometimes it is fun to play what if…

Leave your what if scenarios or thoughts in the comments section below.

22 comments

  1. I disagree on McCollum losing to a democrat. No Democrat I agree wins in 2010 and I think none wins in 2014 either.

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  2. Dems in 14 · · Reply

    Crist was always at heart fundamentally a Democrat. He would have left the Republicans regardless of what office he ran for because the Tea Party was running things and he would not be comfortable.

    The difference is we would have had a Democratic Governor because he would have switched while in office. The legislature would move to the middle to accommodate the Governor.

    All this nonsense about running for President as a Republican is more propaganda from this “writer,” whose goal by propping up Nan Rich is to ensure a Scott reelection.

    Charlie Crist always thought and acted like a Democrat. The pathetic attempts here to skew the historical record by both the Times and the Squeeze is just laughable.

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    1. The Truth · · Reply

      I’m a Crist backer but it is difficult to fund a scenario in which he becomes a Democrat other than the one that actually played out.

      Still now he’s our guy!

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  3. Susan Smith · · Reply

    Dems In 14, you are the one making pathetic attempts to rewrite history and mold Crist into something he never was and never will be. Give it up.

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  4. Fla Dem · · Reply

    Even those who support Charlie know he’s an opportunist. If not for Marco Rubio yes he would still be a Republican. And he would probably be a conservative one at that.

    But Democrats have to decide whether they want to win or want to lose.

    I know everybody in theory says they want to win but by backing a primary opponent who is a fringe candidate is too old to be Gov. and is simply being propped up republicans and those aligned with Republican interests the progressive movement in Florida will be forever damaged.

    I think a lot of us now realize Charlie isn’t the be-all and end-all. When he first announced for governor no one else wanted to run and it seemed inevitable that he would win. Now it is a 50-50 proposition at best. He is probably not to be a good candidate.

    But since he is having so much difficulty in this race currently the time is better than ever for Rich to get out of the race. At one time when Charlie looks stronger a primary just seemed a minor annoyance.

    Now it could seal the deal for Rick Scott. That is all I’m saying to people like you Susan Smith and others who are blindly doing something that if the current path continues ensures a Scott reelection.

    The problems with Charlie are obvious for the all to see. We don’t need to make matters worse by keeping this primary going.

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    1. Susan Smith · · Reply

      I want to win with my principles intact. Call me blind all you want, but I am not selling out everything I believe in hopes that a man who isn’t trustworthy will throw some crumbs to the Democrats. You will not hold me responsible for losing an election. That honor will go to those of you who don’t even know how to fight for your party or your principles.

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  5. Think! · · Reply

    Anyone who thinks a vote for Rich is a vote for Rick Scott seriously needs to have ones head examined or stop drinking the FDP induced joints y’all seem to be ingesting.

    Primaries can be very good things. As a Republican I will tell you competitive primaries have helped our candidates.

    Charlie Crist himself was helped by competitive primaries for Atty. Gen. and governor.

    Rick Scott would have lost in 2010 if he hadn’t had a primary to train him as a candidate. The flipside is Alex Sink who did not have a primary and stunk as a candidate.

    But y’all do what you want to do. Coronaite Charlie and Rick Scott will beat him in November and that is fine with me.

    As for this article anyone who believes Charlie Crist would be anything but a conservative republican at this point had it not been for Marco Rubio’s primary challenge is really ingesting the FDP drugs too much.

    As a Republican I can tell you Crist was hardly moderate when he was with us. Yes he picked his spots to be moderate in order to get press attention and keep the media on his side but his overall record of governing wasn’t that different than Bush or Scott’s. This is a fact.

    The guy has zero convictions and if you people want to just follow him like sheep when you get led to slaughter don’t blame anyone but yourselves.

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  6. Cheryl · · Reply

    Charlie is for Charlie. He’s gone from being a Cristican to a Charliecrat.

    The sooner my fellow liberals wake up and realize this the better. We need to realize this before the primary or we are sunk!

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  7. Dems in 14 · · Reply

    Susan I think it is important to be noted that you and I are on the same page on so much. We both support the House leadership and leader Thurston and I’m pleased that representative Pafford is taking over as you are. Representative Rouson and his band of business friendly Democrats were not what we needed.

    We also agreed that the chairwoman of the party is doing a great job and these troublemakers aligned with Rouson and Alan Clendenin all need to be stopped. We were successful in turning the house caucus back in the right direction and now have work on the party.

    This is why your support for Nan Rich while admirable is so confusing. You have been a leader in reforming this party from within but yet for some reason on this one issue you are siding with the malcontents. No it is not the same people who backed Clendenin that back Sen. Rich but it is in fact the Republicans who back her.

    Arthenia Joiner is the lone one. She was with Clendenin and now with Nan Rich.

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  8. I think it’s fair to say the honeymoon for Crist as a Democrat has come to an end.

    I see and read more concerns about him now that I have any long time I’m on my fellow partisans.

    I think a big question about Crist is had he stayed as governor what would’ve happened with the Jim Greer trial?

    A sitting Gov. being dragged into that kind of scandal! Think about it!

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  9. Limey · · Reply

    Simple answer

    Crist stays in office Kottkamp becomes governor because he resigns to avoid jail time like so many of his associates.

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  10. Hope Votes · · Reply

    Is there anybody still out there who foolishly still believes that the FDP is not already fully backing Crist for governor? Why is the entire FDP communications staff is doing the bidding for Crist right here on this website and Twitter by attacking us loyal activists, the ones who actually schlep all over to register voters, stand for hours on end in the hot sun at the polls and dutifully attend the Democratic club meetings. Every activist ought to know that the FDP has sold us out. They are the DINOs who are backing a fellow DINO in Crist.

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  11. He’d have become a Democrat by now for sure.

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  12. Dems in 14 · · Reply

    Susan it is principal. Chris has always been a moderate while Rich voted for stand your ground is taking sugar money and is openly backed by some very suspect legislators and operatives.

    It is one thing to claim you are progressive like Sen. Rich does yet have voted for stand your ground and be taking sugar money via an outside group while inviting Republicans to help you in this race.

    If you want real progressive reform and real change Crist is that vehicle. He hates the conservatives now and will destroy them if he becomes Governor.

    We agree on so much. It is just this we disagree on and you cannot see where you need to be.

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    1. Susan Smith · · Reply

      Sugar money? You want to throw sugar money in my face? Get ready for a new photo on Facebook. BTW, Nan has explained her SYG vote and called for the law to be changed. Crist has danced around the gun issue, just has he dances around everything else.

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  13. True Blue Dem · · Reply

    For all those bashing Charlie as not “good enough” of a Democrat, what does it say that many of Florida’s best Democratic operatives, most of them former Obama campaign staff, have all signed on to work for Crist? Folks like Jessica Clark, Steve Schale, Kevin Cate, Franco Ripple, Omar Khan, Rick Minor and others?

    All of these folks have worked in Florida, for Democrats, for many years. Not to mention big national people like Jim Messina. Shouldn’t that all tell you something?

    Like

    1. Tallahassee Dem · · Reply

      First-Kevin Cate. Jeff Atwater anybody? Bad example by you.

      Second-all of your examples are for hire. None of them count. Give me the names of his grassroots volunteers. The Susan Smiths of the Democratic Party.

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    2. Wendy Sejour · · Reply

      It says that they can be bought just like their Republican counterparts and will abandon what little principles they had for power.. Obama and OFA are not and never were true progressives. They talk the talk but not only will not walk the walk, but try to push others off of the road if they dare to try to hold them accountable for going corporate/middle of the road instead of keeping the promises they made to progressives to get our votes during the campaign.

      Like

    3. Demodaysi · · Reply

      Its all about money and influence. Look around. There are several democratic senators who were termed out working for republicans (CFO).

      Like

  14. Crist would’ve become a tea party race baiting Republican if it served his purposes.

    Like

  15. Wendy Sejour · · Reply

    Dems 14 you should know better than to tangle with Susan Smith. She knows her facts and will stick to her strong progressive principles. You cannot possibly think that any true liberal/progressive (I mean that in the real sense in that we will stand by our convictions even when it is difficult) buys that Crist governed as a moderate. That is some fantasy pasted together using a few small instances when Crist actually did his job as Governor and acted in the best interests of ALL of the people of Florida instead of crazy party ideology. If you look at his entire record as a public official you will find that he is overwhelmingly conservative and only moderates his stances when it gets to hot too handle. He has no core belief system and no soul. The Democratic Party choosing him as their “savior” show that they do not as well.

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  16. Wendy Sejour · · Reply

    To those who think Charlie Crist was/is moderate: 2009 Letter from Governor Crist to Republican leaders https://thefloridasqueeze.com/2014/05/08/august-2009-letter-from-governor-crist-to-republican-leaders/

    Like

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