It’s always dangerous to get close to a backstabber. The news that Charlie Crist won’t refund contributions he received from Republican donors inspired me to explain why Crist’s independent campaign is doomed:
- Crist will get no more Republican money. Fundraising is crucial to politics, and there are no direct-mail lists of “raging moderates” who will donate to an independent Crist campaign. It was estimated in late April that Crist quit the GOP race with $6 million cash-on-hand. Based on his previous “burn rate,” he’s unlikely to have half that amount remaining by Labor Day. Florida is a large state where running TV ads statewide (from Miami to Orlando to Jacksonville to Pensacola) is very expensive. Crist will get buried under an avalanche of TV ads in September and October.
- Crist has no campaign “ground game” infrastructure. Who will be county chairmen and precinct captains for Crist? Where will he find volunteers to staff local offices, working the phones and handing out yard signs? Crist must build a campaign apparatus from scratch, while Rubio will have the well-established election machinery of the Republican Party working for him. As Rubio’s senior advisors said in a memo last month, “Florida’s county GOP offices are some of the most organized and sophisticated in the country . . . Crist will be starting from scratch to recruit, organize and mobilize volunteers for his campaign, whereas both Marco and [Democratic candidate Kendrick] Meek will have built-in volunteer networks to draw from.”
- Nobody trusts a traitor. And nobody respects a quitter, as Arlen Specter is belatedly learning. Like Specter’s switch to the Democrats, Crist’s decision to go independent was pure selfishness. Crist had expected his handpicked state GOP chairman Jim Greer to deliver the Senate nomination on a silver platter, and when that didn’t happen, Crist decided to take his ball and go home. Think of how that lends itself to a devastating 30-second TV ad.
- Rubio will win the debates. For nearly a year, Crist avoided debating Rubio. Once they finally met in a debate — March 28 on “Fox News Sunday” — it was obvious why, and Crist quit the GOP primary less than a month later. At some point this fall, Crist will have to share a debate stage with Rubio and the Democrat, Meek. Charlie will lose that debate, too, for the simple reason that there is no persuasive political rationale for Crist’s candidacy. If Florida voters want an Obama-hugging, stimulus-endorsing, liberal stooge for Harry Reid, they’ll support Kendrick Meek.
And any Republican operative who hires on with the Crist campaign is committing career suicide. Working for a RINO is bad enough, but working for an ex-RINO loser . . . well, that’s what pilots call an “unrecoverable error.”