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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

5 reasons Charlie Crist should run for governor and 5 reasons he shouldn't



hug.jpgIt was the biggest piece of thoroughly unsurprising news in months: Charlie Crist is becoming a Democrat. • The next expectation is Crist will announce a campaign for Florida governor. He's tanned, rested and ready after two years at a high-profile law firm and anyone who follows his career has a hard time picturing Crist out of public life forever. • But the Florida Republicans' prince-turned-pariah is no lock to win a Democratic primary against the likes of Alex Sink, let alone a general election against Gov. Rick Scott, who can pour tens of millions of his own money into a re-election campaign. • A Crist candidacy has pros and cons. Here are five reasons why the former governor should run again and five reasons why he shouldn't.




1. Democrats need a winner. Tired of losing, Florida Democrats are so hungry for some real influence in state government that they will cut Crist slack for his blatant opportunism and overlook some of his more strident conservative stands.

Yes, President Barack Obama won Florida twice in a row, but Democrats have lost the past four gubernatorial races and now hold just one of six statewide offices. The ultimate prize for party-building and fundraising is the Governor's Mansion, and Democrats only have to see how relentlessly the Florida GOP has attacked Crist for months to realize how seriously it views him as a threat.

A sizable chunk of the Democratic primary electorate won't trust Crist, so the more crowded the primary, the better for him. So far, it looks like a crowd with potential contenders including former Chief Financial Officer Sink, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, former state Sen. Nan Rich of Broward County, state Sen. Jeremy Ring of Broward and former Miami-Dade Commissioner Jimmy Morales. But all would have to spend millions to become known statewide.

2. The Democratic coalition. Trial lawyers and teachers are two critical groups to bankroll a statewide campaign, and Crist is uniquely positioned to win over both. He works for one of the state's most prominent trial lawyers, John "For the People" Morgan, and teachers praised Crist even when was a Republican governor for vetoing a controversial teacher merit pay bill.

Crist also has wide support in the party's most loyal constituency, African-Americans. They appreciated his outreach to them and his expansion of the attorney general's power to prosecute civil rights cases and a decision, overturned by Scott and others, to make it easier for ex-felons to regain their civil rights so they could vote.

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[Last modified: Tuesday, December 11, 2012 7:46am]


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