Former Gov. Charlie Crist has a great resume, a moderate-to-liberal heart and he's just made a public and decisive rejection of the Republican Party. Does that mean he's automatically the next Democratic candidate for governor?
As former Miami Herald political writer Beth Reinhard writes in the National Journal, not necessarily...particularly, if the rank-and-file thinks the party is stuffing Crist down their throats:
Some Democratic activists are getting anxious as they perceive the national party’s heavy hand on Crist’s political conversion. “They’re trying to clear the field, and I resent that,” said Susan Smith, president of the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida. “Charlie Crist is not a Democrat, no matter what that piece of paper says.”
After all, this is a politician once dubbed “Chain Gang Charlie” for promoting roadside chain gangs, who auditioned to be Republican presidential nominee John McCain’s running mate in 2008, and who ferociously beat back Democratic challengers to serve for 18 years as a Republican state senator, education commissioner, attorney general, and governor.
If he runs against Republican Gov. Rick Scott in 2014, a big concern for Democrats is, what if Crist gets a primary challenge from the left? It could be wrenching for the party.
Early polls -- WAY early polls -- are encouraging for Crist. Public Policy Polling found two months ago he would be competitive in a primary or general election and he would have beaten Scott, had the election been held then, 48 to 43 percent.