Crist confirms he will run for Senate
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05/12/09 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Tuesday | Listen to this entire show:

Gov. Charlie Crist confirmed today that he will be running for the U.S. Senate seat next year being vacated by Mel Martinez. Speaking at a news conference in Tallahassee, Crist was asked about those Floridians who may be disappointed that not only will he not be the governor after next year, but that he may be ineffective in his job as he becomes distracted by the Senate race for the next year and a half.

In Washington, the National Republican Senatorial Committee said it will support Crist in his expensive battle for the nomination against former House Speaker Marco Rubio, who announced his candidacy last week.

Chris Ingram is with Strategic Solutions, a Republican Party political consultant group based in Tampa. He says the mainstream media will depict the battle as one for the heart and soul of the Republican Party, but he thinks Florida Republicans are just looking for leadership.

Wasting no time, Rubio released an internet ad that features a photo of Crist staring into the eyes of President Barack Obama.

Cynthia Handley is a former chair of the campaigns for George W. Bush and Jeb Bush throughout the years in Brevard County. She says she’ll be supporting Marco Rubio in the Senate race, and says everywhere she goes, all she hears is criticism of Charlie Crist.

Handley worries that Rubio’s South Florida roots could work against him.

Sid Dinerstein is chairman of the Palm Beach County Republican Party. He’s neutral in the Christ vs. Rubio race, but says that Crist angered some members of the GOP in Palm Beach last year by his refusal to endorse a Congressional candidate who ran against Democrat Ron Klein.

Dinerstein says he’d prefer the governor run for re-election. But in what sounds like a knock on Crist, Dinerstein says Republicans are tired of electing candidates who end up going to Washington and become something other they advertise themselves as.

The issue of money will be extremely relevant in a Crist-Rubio standoff.

The GOP primary will take up a lot of print and airtime over the course of next 15 months. On the Democratic side, Congressman Kendrick Meek, Sen. Dan Gelber, and North Miami Mayor Kevin Burns will be dueling it out to face the Republican winner in 2010. But whomever wins the Senate race, some Democrats are excited that the popular governor will be leaving that office next year.

Former state legislator Sara Romeo says Crist’s departure creates the potential for a Democrat to take over.

Hillsborough political activist Susan Smith also says the move is good for state Democrats.

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