Senator Charlie Crist?
National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn says he’s trying to make it happen.
He would be a strong candidate, having already won a statewide election in a tough national environment in 2006. But conservatives would be “meh” on him at best. From John J. Miller’s profile of him:
Throughout his career, Crist has demonstrated a talent for spotting and exploiting niche issues. As a state senator, he proposed that prisoners work in shackled crews. Opponents mocked him as “Chain Gang Charlie.” Their name-calling backfired, however, as Crist embraced the term and even used it in campaign ads. Later, he criticized Florida Atlantic University for sponsoring a play that depicts Jesus as a gay man. As attorney general he blasted Medicaid for letting sex offenders acquire Viagra, and his complaints prompted a change in federal policy. In each case, he earned headlines and conservative approval.
Despite these gestures, many conservatives have harbored doubts about Crist. “He’s no Jeb Bush,” says one Republican congressman who isn’t from Florida. “There’s no way you can be as popular as he is and be doing anything hard.” Some of Crist’s biggest fans don’t belong to his party. Democratic state senator Dave Aronberg has called him “one of the best Democratic governors Florida has ever had,” according to the St. Petersburg Times. Last year, at a gala sponsored by the legislature’s black caucus, state representative Terry Fields exalted Crist with language that echoed a phrase often used to describe Bill Clinton: “Don’t you think he’s Florida’s first black governor?” The Associated Press reported that “the crowd erupted in applause.”
A main reason for this left-leaning group’s celebration of Crist was his support for what was one of its top legislative priorities: the restoration of voting rights for felons.
Other possible candidates include former state House sepaker Marco Rubio and state attorney general Bill McCollum.