Capitol crowd reaction to Charlile’s defection? Snickersby Dara Kam | April 29th, 2010
Charlie Crist was surrounded by a crowd of cheering admirers in his St. Petersburg hometown when he announced he is dropping out of the GOP U.S. Senate primary.
On the fourth floor rotunda of the Capitol, not so much.
The rotunda’s typically a raucous swirl of frenzied last-minute activity on the penultimate day of the 2010 session,
But gone was the cacophony of just moments before as Crist’s tanned visage appeared on two large-screen televisions.
Dozens of lobbyists sat, stood with their arms folded or leaned against marble pillars watching the national broadcast of the governor’s decision.
The response? Utter silence, with one exception – when Crist said “I was never one who sought elective office to demagogue or point fingers.”
The rotunda broke out in snickers.
Nevertheless, the lobbying corps remained rapt throughout Crist’s speech and ignored the Senate session aired on two other large-screen televisions nearby.
“Who’d have ever thought when we were cutting up the Crist/Kottkamp bumper stickers we’d be throwing the Crist half away?” a long-time GOP insider said.
Many reacted with a yawn to Crist’s remarks.
“Nothing new there,” said lobbyist Tim Meenan, who’s spent about 30 years working in and outside of the Capitol.
“It’s more interesting than watching the legislature today. It’s kind of anti-climactic, don’t you think?” shrugged another long-time lobbyist Guy Spearman.
Even Sen. John Thrasher, chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, took Crist’s “defection” (Thrasher’s words) in stride.
“It is what it is. He’s gone. And we’re going to get about our business of moving ahead and electing other Republicans,” Thrasher, who wasn’t among those who watched Crist’s performance, said.