What's next for Charlie Crist?
On Jan. 4, Charlie Crist will step aside as governor of the fourth-largest state and for the first time in 18 years face life outside the public sector.
Then what? Back to practicing law, the profession he gave up for politics? Lobbying? Dancing With the Stars?
"With Charlie's knees, I don't think so,'' joked longtime friend Brent Sembler, who said Crist was so focused on his U.S. Senate campaign that he never even considered potential Plan B's.
"Politics is a passion of his, and Charlie's been lucky enough to make his passion his profession. Not all of us are that lucky,'' Sembler said. "I don't think he's really thought about it yet at all. I think he'll take the next two months and then figure out the next step."
In a phone interview with the Times, Crist said his only immediate focus is his current job. "The next thing for me is to finish strong these next 60 or so days as governor," he said. "It's the greatest honor and privilege of my life to serve the people in this state I love."
But friends, acquaintances, observers and even ardent critics were already speculating about his future. Among the suggestions: a book and speaker circuit about the perils of running as an independent; a teaching stint; an appointment in the Barack Obama administration, trying to highlight its bipartisanship; and a rainmaker job, drumming up clients for lobbying or law firms.
The consensus is that Crist's political career is not over, just derailed for a bit.
"He is like the Jason character on Friday the 13th. You're never sure he's really dead and won't keep showing up again in bad sequels,'' said Republican consultant Ana Navarro, who falls into the category of Crist critic. "If I were Bill Young, I wouldn't stand on any high balconies with Crist."