By Jamie Miller
In one word – redistricting.
If Gov. Crist decides to run for the U.S. Senate, he would be vacating a sure-fire reelection for governor. More importantly, he would leave the governor’s mansion open to a Democrat pick up. I’m sure national Democrats are chomping at the bit to have the top spot and bully pulpit during the redistricting process that will follow the 2010 election as well as during President Obama’s reelection in 2012.
In fact, I suspect that many of the rumors surrounding this week’s rumors about Sen. Martinez leaving the senate early and Crist appointing himself to the seat were likely started by Democrats who would relish the opportunity to win the governor’s mansion. Remember that nearly all of these reports, especially those in “Roll Call,” are attributed to “anonymous sources” who could very well be Democrat operatives, although writers often imply to the reader that they are interviewing Republican insiders.
Democrats already have the majority in the U.S. Senate and at best, Florida could represent the pick up that gives democrats a filibuster-proof majority, but let’s face it, there are many more opportunities for Democrat pick ups in the senate that will not cost the type of money that it will take to win Florida. Quite frankly, when Democrats look at their balance sheet, they would rather fight and invest in something that is worth having – the governor’s mansion.
Once Republican legislators move forward past the Sansom resignation and the legislative session, pressure will build for Crist to remain in the state’s top spot. If Democrats win the governor’s mansion, the new governor would use the top spot as a bully pulpit to remove the legislature’s involvement from redistricting and place it in the hands of the supposedly non-partisan judicial system. In all likelihood, the judicial branch, which has a proven Democrat Party partisanship, will likely redraw lines which could cost the GOP as many as 10-15 state house seats, four to five seats in the state senate and three to five congressional seats (depending on how many additional seats Florida receives following the U.S. Census). Republican elected officials, donors, and grassroots supporters will clamor for Crist to run for reelection rather than the U.S. Senate seat.
Not only is Crist more inclined to run for re-election because he has been a good governor, it offers him the same political opportunities, and will be easily reelected; he will also run for reelection because the implications for the Republican Party in Florida and nationally are just too great. At the end of the day, the risk is not worth the reward for Crist and the GOP. There are several potential candidates for the U.S. Senate who will be competitive should they become the GOP’s nominee for U.S. Senate and should the GOP lose that seat for the U.S. Senate, it will not be nearly as devastating for the GOP as it will be should a Democrat win the governor’s mansion.
While speculation is fun for all those involved, Gov. Crist will run for and win reelection easily to the governor’s mansion.