Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Obama Can't & Won't Support Charlie Crist

Kendrick Meek’s crushing defeat of Jeffrey Greene in Florida’s Democratic Senatorial Primary sealed Charlie Crist’s fate. In the lead up to the primary, Charlie Crist had become all the rage amongst the pundit class. He’s doomed now.

Why is he doomed? Won’t President Obama quietly shift resources to him and shy away from Meek? Of course not. Kendrick Meek has proven he is a capable candidate worthy of his party’s nomination. And he is by all accounts a class act. Crist on the other hand, has had a set of flip flops that have provided an increasingly negative light on his opportunistic nature.

The mistake often made by those who believe Crist will receive tacit support from President Obama is grounded in the false assumption that Barack Obama needs Charlie Crist more than he needs Kendrick Meek. Meek is a four term Congressman representing a district handed over to him by his mother who represented the district for several terms. If Obama abandoned him in favor of Crist, how would that go down with the Meek Machine?

Well, some might argue, won’t he need Charlie Crist to win and caucus with Democrats to keep a majority in the Senate? Maybe. But politics is first about self preservation and secondly, accurately assessing the odds.
President Obama needs Florida in 2012. Kendrick Meek can help turn out votes in 2012 even if he is assuredly defeated in 2010. If Charlie Crist were to pull the upset in 2010 just how many votes can the former life long Republican Governor turn out for Obama in 2012? Especially if the Meek camp is still doing a slow burn?  Would Barack Obama risk losing Florida in 2012 by cutting a Democrat Congressman? Self preservation as the first rule says supporting Meek in defeat pays larger dividends for the President. For the President to support Crist, even if he won would be a short term “pyhrric” victory.

The other reason he can’t and won’t support Crist over Meek are the statistical probabilities and political realities. We now recognize that the Senate is in play, but a net gain of ten seats is daunting even under optimal conditions. If you’re Obama do you assume you need Crist’s caucusing with you given the probabilty that you will cling to a majority without him? Of course not. President Obama will continue to support Meek because it’s in his self interest.

Don’t worry my friends. Marco Rubio is going to win and Charlie Crist is toast, burned by a President who does not need him.

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