Charlie Crist leaves GOP and runs as an Independent

Florida Governor Charlie Crist

Governor Charlie Crist will be running as an Independent. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Following a lot of speculation, Florida Governor Charlie Crist has announced he has dropped out of the Republican primary and will be running as an independent candidate for the U.S. Senate.  It has been anticipated for some time that he would do so, so it isn’t as if a lot of people are really that surprised or are immediately going to get payday loans to fill his opponents’ coffers. (Maybe they will?)  Crist has a long service record in the state of Florida in several capacities, and the name recognition is expected to give him an advantage over his Democrat and Republican opponents.

Some in the GOP aren’t happy with Charlie Crist

In the wake of the Charlie Crist announcement, some Republicans are insisting he give any campaign funds he received while a Republican back to the party.  Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) made pleas in the press for Crist to return any funds from the PAC (Political Action Committee) that were given for his potential Senate campaign, and any requested funds back to donors, according to USA Today.

Independent can mean the kiss of death

Running as an independent can go several ways.  According to an analysis by the New York Times, the biggest advantage Charlie Crist has in the Senate race is his name recognition.  He’s already well known to Floridians, whereas the other two candidates don’t have his lengthy record or popularity.  His Republican opponent, Marco Rubio, has popularity among tea party types, but is thought to be a bit moderate for their taste.  He also allegedly used party funds for personal expenses. (A Tea Party heavy ignoring the rules to fill his pockets? That would never happen!)

Independents don’t always fare too well

So far, independent candidates haven’t had the greatest success. Currently, there are two Independent Senators, Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman.  There have been three Independent Governors (Jesse Ventura doesn’t count – he ran on the Reform Party ticket), and there has only been one Independent elected President. (George Washington, believe it or not.) Third parties and independents don’t always fare that well. What does fare well is branding – and Charlie Crist is a fairly solid brand in Florida.  This should be interesting.