Charlie Crist for Senate and Other Unlikely Ideas

We're just at the beginning of a new political biennium, which is a wonderfully fanciful period in the election season. With November of 2010 a ...
by | January 22, 2009
 

We're just at the beginning of a new political biennium, which is a wonderfully fanciful period in the election season. With November of 2010 a very, very long time away, everyone in the political world is imagining the candidates who might run, rather than focusing on the ones who will run.

In that context, I present this story from the Hill about Republican efforts to recruit Florida Gov. Charlie Crist to run for Senate:

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) on Wednesday said efforts are ongoing to persuade Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) to run for his state's open Senate seat.

Few Florida politicians can match Crist's popularity and fundraising potential. The governor, a centrist who would be up for reelection in 2010,  has denied any interest in running for the seat being vacated by Sen. Mel Martinez (R), but Cornyn, who has spoken to the governor about the race, suggested Crist may be open to persuasion.

This is the season when governor after governor is viewed as a possible candidate for Senate. It doesn't matter, for example, that Sarah Palin has never expressed any interest in challenging Lisa Murkowski. The important thing is that she hasn't denied she's running in terms that are completely and totally unequivocal, so, hey, she might be running.

I enjoy this speculation as much as most people -- in fact, I enjoy it quite a bit more than most people. So it's with some reluctance that I point out that (unless I'm missing someone) only once since 2000 has a sitting governor who wasn't term-limited tried for Senate. Jeanne Shaheen, a three-term governor of New Hampshire (a state with no term limits) ran for Senate in 2002. That's it.

In other words, every other time in the past five election cycles that a governor had a choice between running for Senate and continuing to serve as governor (or running for reelection as governor) he or she preferred the governorship. There's something about becoming the most junior member of a 100-seat body that just doesn't appeal to governors.

If you're looking for governors who might actually want to be senators, find the ones who are term-limited (or, better still, ones who are no longer in office). Kathleen Sebelius may very well run for Senate in Kansas, for example.

But if you prefer to spend a few more weeks imagining Sen. Charlie Crist or a Murkowski-Palin grudge match, I'm certainly not going to stop you. Who knows -- at one point Barack Obama for president was an unlikely idea too.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

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