A new ad in the three-way Senate race in Florida shows independent candidate Charlie Crist for the man he was for years: a prominent name in the Republican Party. That could be enough to sink him.
Coverage of the spot has called it “crushing” and a “death blow” for Crist’s campaign. But really the ad is just a collection of Crist’s past statements on camera (some less than a month old) espousing his own conservatism and his connection to the GOP.
Those connections are many. Crist, as you’ll recall, was a rising star of the GOP in 2008, appearing on John McCain’s shortlist for vice-presidential nominees before being heavily courted by the NRSC to run for Florida’s open Senate seat. All that came before Marco Rubio and the tea party upended things for Republicans like Crist, eventually pushing Crist to leave the party and run for the Senate as an independent. But even that road was a bumpy one, with Crist first trying to shift hard to the right to take on Rubio before changing direction and running just as hard to the left to pick up Democratic votes as an independent.
All of this happened on camera, of course, meaning the stage was set for Democratic nominee Kendrick Meek’s new ad the moment Crist changed parties. Still, the fact that Crist’s past is such an obvious liability speaks to the problems he’s facing stealing votes from the effective Meek.(Marco Rubio got in on the act today, too, sending around this video showing Crist declining to name a single position he took as a Republican that he would not now take as an independent.)
Watch Meek’s new ad, sure to be a tough one for Crist’s new Democratic friends to stomach:
Can a party-changing candidate shake off his recent past after an ad like this? Go ask Arlen Specter.
The TPM Poll Average shows Rubio leading the Senate race with 40% support. Crist comes in a distant second with 29.5% and Meek runs close to that with 22.1%.