Monday, May 11, 2009 at 9:18 a.m.
In the past month the idea that Charlie Crist would run for Senate has gone from hot political rumor to almost foregone conclusion, and news broke this weekend that it is indeed fact.
Republican Party of Florida chairman Jim Greer told the Pensacola News Journal last night
that Crist will announce his candidacy on Tuesday in a low-key event in Tallahassee. The announcement will come with an immediate, and enviable batch of endorsements from state and national Republican officials.
With Crist's official entrance and high approval ratings, the Republicans will then be the favorites to keep the Senate seat that Mel Martinez is leaving behind. But the moderate Crist is expected to face a challenge from the more conservative Marco Rubio in the primaries. On the Democratic side, Representative Kendrick Meek, with a strong assist from President Bill Clinton, is leading the early legs of the race against state senator Dan Gelber.
This does leave the Governor's race wide open. Attorney General Bill McCollum, Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson, Rep. Vern Buchanan and Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp are all potential Republican contenders. On the Democratic side, State CFO Alex Sink, as the highest ranking Dem in Tallahassee, is seen a shoe-in during the Primary if she decides to run.
The possibility of a McCollum vs Sink matchup would then create vacancies in the state's top two elected cabinet offices. With Bronson term-limited anyway, what seemed like one competitive state-wide race, may have just morphed into five. Good luck to all the candidates raising the money in this economy.