Crist going fishing and then “finishing strong as your governor”by Jane Musgrave | November 3rd, 2010
ST. PETERSBURG — A day after Floridians delivered a stunning rebuke of his independent run for the U.S. Senate, Gov. Charlie Crist emerged from the tony confines of the Renaissance Vinoy Resort and Golf Club this morning looking and acting like he was still running for office.
Shaking the hands of bellhops and hugging well-wishers who happened by, a smiling Crist said he has no immediate plans other than spending the day fishing on his boat Freedom. And then?
“I’m going to finish strong as your governor,” he said.
The 54-year-old declined to say whether he sees politics in his future. “One day at time,” he said.
However, those who gathered at the Vinoy for his short-lived election night party on Tuesday night said they can’t imagine his 18-year political career is over.
More than one suggested that he might form a political action committee aimed at helping moderate candidates. Crist acknowledged that some have suggested such a role for him but no decisions have been made.
He was equally noncommittal about whether he will remain an independent. A longtime GOP stalwart he bolted the party when it became clear he couldn’t beat tea party darling Marco Rubio.
Rubio crushed Crist and Democratic candidate Kendrick Meek on Tuesday. Rubio captured 49 percent of the vote to Crist’s 30 percent and Meek’s 20 percent.
Crist was stoic about Tuesday’s results. “I think it’s pretty clear that it was a Republican tidal wave,” he said. “It happens.”
Tuesday’s defeat, in some ways, was a fitting, if poignant, loss for the upbeat chief executive. A U.S. Senate seat is the only office that has eluded him since he was first elected to the Florida Senate in 1992.
However, in 1998 he didn’t expect to beat Democratic political icon Bob Graham in the senate race. While Graham got 62.5 percent of the vote, Crist endeared himself to the GOP leaders by having the guts to take on the Democratic Party’s most formidable candidate. He was rewarded by then-Gov. Jeb Bush with an appointment to the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
Two years later, Crist was back in the campaign game, knocking down a position as the state’s last elected education commissioner, then becoming the state’s first elected Republican attorney general before reaching the Governor’s Mansion in 2006.
He declined to say whether he would go back to his party. Like everything else, it appears to be up in the air.
But, he said, for the time being at least: “I am an independent.”