Gov. Crist makes NPA run for Senate

NPA (No Party Affiliate) is Florida jibba-jabba for independent and gives Crist plausible deniability for distancing himself from the Republican Party: he can say, I didn’t leave the GOP, the GOP left me.

It wouldn’t be a stretch.  Marco Rubio is dominating the Republican primary because Florida has a closed primary system, essentially encouraging the most radical elements to decide who the Republicans will run for Senate.  So, Rubio – the Tea Party choice – has probably just been neutralized.  I’m working it out in my head and it goes something like this.

If Crist had dropped out, it’d be Meek v. Rubio.  Rubio will get the rabid Tea Baggers plus some moderate republicans and social conservatives.  Meek would get a very un-enthusiastic Democratic turn-out and probably disaffected Crist supporters who would never vote for Rubio.  In this case, I think it’d be safer numbers to bet on Rubio.

Now that Crist is locked-in as NPA.  Rubio is gone.  He can’t get to 36% – it is a three-way race right now – with Tea Party votes alone.  Florida simply is not the kind of state that gets swept up by extremists of either slant.

With Rubio effectively neutralized, Crist and Meek are going to be fighting it out.  If Obama makes a couple visits and gets Florida Dems psyched about Meek – who, to the best of my knowledge, has nothing wrong with him (unlike Crist’s pandering/flip-flops and Rubio’s nuttery/ethics violations) – then I think there’s enough Dems to make this no contest while the two conservatives tear each other apart.

I mean, no one’s even talking about Kendrick Meek right now.  They haven’t been for weeks.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Crist and Rubio are going to eviscerate each other over the conservative voters.  Crist can’t afford to lose them to Rubio, no matter what the GOP primary indicates.  Meek can sit in the back, wait for some national backing and enthusiasm a few weeks before the election, and Florida will drink the sweet Kool-Aid of liberalism.

For more analysis I’m giving it up the Howard Troxler et al. at the St. Pete Times here and here.

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