Crazy as it may sound, many of the savviest political minds in Florida think Charlie Crist will run for governor in 2014.
Yep, Charlie Crist, the fellow who walked away from the governorship in 2010 only to see his political prospects implode. Remember, this is Florida politics, where anything can happen.
The St. Petersburg Times' latest Florida Insider Poll surveyed 98 people — consultants, lobbyists, fundraisers, activists — and 49 percent predicted Crist would run, including 56 percent of the Democratic insiders and 45 percent of the Republicans.
Not a majority, but nonetheless astounding that so many people see Crist trying for a comeback run against Rick Scott.
Others thought his best shot is Congress.
"I'll be darned," said Crist, who works at Morgan and Morgan law firm and serves on the St. Joe Co. board. "I'm enjoying the freedom of the private sector — very much. … And I get to spend more time with my beautiful wife."
An overwhelming majority, 76 percent, said Crist would be strongest as a Democrat, while 21 percent said he would be strongest as an independent and 3 percent as a Republican.
Given the choice of Crist, former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio, state Sen. Jeremy Ring, former gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink and state Democratic Party chairman Rod Smith, 47 percent said Crist would be the strongest Democratic nominee (including 41 percent of Democrats surveyed and 49 percent of Republicans). Twenty-two percent said Smith would be the strongest Democrat, 17 percent said Iorio and 11 percent said Sink.
A couple of people suggested other Democrats belonged on the list — former state Sen. Dan Gelber and Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler. One Democrat even predicted U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson will be the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in 2014.
Then there's the question about Gov. Rick Scott. His lousy approval ratings make him look like a target for a primary challenge, but his ability to stroke a $70 million check would give any serious candidate real pause.
Our insiders were pretty divided: 41 percent said it's possible Scott draws a credible primary challenger, 36 percent said it's highly unlikely, and 23 percent said it's likely.
Hopefully we don't need to remind Buzz readers that there is nothing scientific about this poll, which included 51 Republicans, 39 Democrats, and eight people registered no party affiliation/other. For a list of this poll's participants, go to links.tampbay.com.
Turn the tables on robocalls
Fed up with those Republican Party-paid-for Gov. Scott robocalls?
Now you can robocall Scott. The group PinkSlipRick.com is letting people record 60-second phone calls that it will send to Scott's office on Monday.
"He's interrupted you during dinner. He's interrupted you when you're getting the kids ready for bed. He's interrupted us. Dozens of times. For months. Each time with those annoying recorded message phone calls," the group said on its website.
The group is asking people to send their name and phone number, then it will call you to record your message. Dozens of submissions already have been submitted.
"Stop calling me, Gov. Scott," says Thomas B. "I would never vote for you if you were the last candidate in this planet. Forget it. You're an idiot. And you're corrupt. And I don't want anything to do with you, or your government. Bye!"
The governor's liaisons
As part of his summer reshuffling, Gov. Scott has a named a public liaison director. Michael Dew was installed in the new $90-000-a-year job earlier this summer. Dew will have two deputies: Greg Williams and Robin Stublen. Stublen is the founder of the Punta Gorda Tea Party and was one of the few activists to support Scott in the Republican primary for governor. Scott said he didn't hire Stublen because of tea party connections. "I hired him because he's good," Scott said.
Times staff writers Aaron Sharockman and Michael C. Bender, and computer assisted reporting specialist Constance Humburg contributed.