Gov. Charlie Crist (R-FL) is starting to send some mixed messages on whether he might bolt the GOP and run for the Senate as an independent, the Miami Herald reports.
“I’m not thinking about that today,” Crist told reporters today. “We’ll look at that later on.” This event comes in the wake of Crist’s veto yesterday of a Republican-backed education bill, a bill that many saw as a key choice for Crist and his future in the GOP.The legislation, which was passed through the Republican legislature in the face of massive protests from teachers, would have abolished tenure for new teachers and instituted strict merit pay guidelines. After Crist vetoed the bill yesterday, he was publicly criticized by former Gov. Jeb Bush, and Crist also saw his campaign chairman, former Sen. Connie Mack, resign from the campaign.
Until now, Crist and his campaign had denied the idea of an independent campaign in much stronger terms. The TPM Poll Average has him trailing his opponent in the primary, former state House speaker Marco Rubio, by 59.1%-27.9%.
If Crist were to run as an independent, he would have to decide in time for the April 30 filing deadline. A key factor here is that Florida law does not allow a candidate to what Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) did in his 2006 re-election campaign, when Lieberman lost the Democratic primary and then continued to run as an independent in the general election.