Crist Ponders Senate Run As An Independent Florida Governor Charlie Crist has days to decide whether he'll declare himself an independent in his quest for a U.S. Senate seat. Crist, once a darling of the GOP, has watched his fortunes change.
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Crist Ponders Senate Run As An Independent

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Crist Ponders Senate Run As An Independent

Crist Ponders Senate Run As An Independent

Crist Ponders Senate Run As An Independent

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Florida Governor Charlie Crist has days to decide whether he'll declare himself an independent in his quest for a U.S. Senate seat. Crist, once a darling of the GOP, has watched his fortunes change.

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

Now, polls show that candidate, Marco Rubio, leading Charlie Crist by more than 20 points. From Miami, NPR's Greg Allan has this report on where Crist could go from here.

GREG ALLEN: Politically speaking, Florida Governor Charlie Crist hasn't had a lot of good weeks lately, but last week was an exception.

CHARLIE CRIST: I veto Senate Bill Six, because this bill is contrary to my firmly held principle to act in the best interests of the people of Florida.

ALLEN: With his veto, people across the state hailed Crist as a hero. Some Democrats talked about changing their party affiliation so they could vote for him in the Republican primary, but Crist denied that by vetoing the bill, he was trying to appeal to voters.

CRIST: It has nothing to do with politics at all. It has everything to do with the children of Florida.

ALLEN: It's a question on which just about everyone in Florida who follows politics has an opinion, including visitors like former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. He was in Tampa yesterday, campaigning for Crist's opponent, Marco Rubio. Romney called on Crist to either stay in the Republican primary or get out of the race.

MITT ROMNEY: And I hope he stays in the Republican Party. Or if he decides that he doesn't think he can win that, that he gets - steps aside and gets behind Marco Rubio to make sure that we can keep our message strong in Washington.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

ALLEN: Democratic political strategist Steve Schale says in running as an independent, Crist would face some formidable challenges. Perhaps the biggest would be fundraising. Schale believes to win the Senate seat in Florida, candidates will need at least $25 million.

STEVE SCHALE: Crist currently has about $10 million cash on hand he can use for the general election. If he makes the switch, the hardest challenge he's going to have is that a lot of the institutional Republican donors who've helped him to this point probably are going to go away.

ALLEN: He says the party has done a lot to help Crist over the years, and now stands to lose a lot if he runs as an Independent. Democrats, Cardenas notes, had been gaining in Florida, and now have built more than a 700,000 voter registration edge over Republicans.

AL CARDENAS: We need to rebuild our party. And if a governor who's so well-known and liked by many decides to run as an independent, it would have serious long-term negative effects on our party.

ALLEN: Greg Allen, NPR News, Miami.

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