Governor Charlie Crist is now publicly acknowledging that he's considering pulling out of the Republican primary for the senate seat and running as an independent. But in classic Crist style he's remaining vague on the details, and won't even promise that if elected he'd caucus with the Republicans.
Running for Senate as an independent is one thing, but like a high school cafeteria once you get there you still have to choose which lunch table to sit at. Currently both independents in the senate, Bernie Sanders (who identifies as a democratic socialist) and Joe Lieberman (who found himself in the Crist-like situation of losing his party's primary, but then running with no affiliation) caucus with the Democrats. If they refused to caucus with either party they'd miss out on preferred committee assignments and chairmanships.
Q: If you win as an independent, which party would you caucus with in Washington - the Republicans or Democrats?
A: You're way ahead of me. One day at a time.
This could just be Crist being Crist, refusing to elaborate on anything until he's made a decision. But the fact he won't even confirm that he'd caucus with the Republicans is surprising.
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Earlier reports indicated that Crist would brand himself as an "Independent Republican," keeping his personal party affiliation, and caucusing with his party, leaving the door open to run again as a full Republican in the future.
Deciding which party he'd ultimately align himself with as an independent would be one of the most central pieces of strategy. Running as an "independent Republican" gives Florida's large politically middle who may be dissatisfied with the Democratic congress but not on board the Tea Party express a choice. It would also make it easier to vote for him in the minds of the dwindling, but significant members of the GOP electorate who still remain loyal to Crist. There might be also less of a demand of Republican donors requesting their money back.
Though, promising to caucus with the Dems would capture independents who still remain wary of the GOP and Democrats who aren't yet sold on the possibility of a Kendrick Meek win. Though, if he's going to be a virtual democrat anyway, why not jump into the Democratic primary and take on a potentially vulnerable Meek?
The tea leaves still say that Crist would ultimately caucus with the Republican, but things could get very interesting if he didn't.