Now that Charlie Crist, Florida’s Republican Governor, has declared as an Independent candidate in this year’s Senate race, he faces a major problem!
Unfortunately, it will take major efforts and commitment by Florida voters who wish to vote for him on the November ballot, as his name will be at the bottom or near bottom of all the candidates on the list, the usual place for an independent candidate with no party line!
Since there will be minor parties listed along with Republican nominee Marco Rubio and Democratic nominee Kendrick Meek, there will be growing concern that many voters might be confused by not finding Crist’s name right below them, or even near them on the voting cards!
Will Crist, who is certainly well known statewide, be able to motivate enough Floridians to go out of their way, search for his name, and actually vote for him? Will Crist be able to gain enough of a share of Republican voters? Will Democrats be willing to abandon their candidate, a Congressman in many ways a version of Barack Obama when he ran for the Illinois Senate seat in 2004, all because Crist vetoed a teacher bill that, therefore, preserved tenure and security for educators in his state, people who often would vote for Democrats? Will moderates and independent registered voters come over to Crist in large enough numbers to make him the winner with only 34-37 percent of the state’s total vote?
Finally, will Crist be able to raise enough money as an Independent to run a media campaign, so urgent in a state with so many media markets, and such a wide variety in voter characteristics in north Florida and the Panhandle; Central Florida and the I-4 corridor from Tampa and St. Petersburg to Orlando; and in the voter rich areas of Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade Counties in South Florida?
Also, with Florida still in many ways a “Southern” and conservative state despite its large percentage of people who have migrated from the North and from Cuba, will it be willing to elect an African American senator in Kendrick Meek, or a Cuban American senator in Marco Rubio, when they have a chance to support a moderate, white “Anglo” Governor, who was very popular until recently?
It is true that Senator Mel Martinez, who resigned after four and a half years in office in the fall of 2009, was Cuban American, but he only had to deal with a white Anglo woman Democrat as his opponent! With Crist in the race, the whole dynamics of the race changes dramatically!
But again, will enough citizens be willing and able to look hard for Crist’s name near the bottom of the ballots? That is still the leading question of this race, above all others!