Endorsements and votes appear to be heading Charlie Crist’s way not because he is the best candidate or would make the best governor, but because of the belief that Nan Rich lacks the name recognition and money to beat Rick Scott. Is such rationale rational? While it’s true that she is far behind Crist and Scott in name recognition and funding, Rich, if nominated, will become a household name during the 10 weeks of media coverage leading up to the November election. She would see an influx of Democrat and anti-Scott money, as well. Also, Crist would be under immense pressure to pass along much of his substantial war chest to her, along with his endorsement.
Is it unreasonable to think a lifelong Democrat like Rich would inspire an equal, if not higher, turnout among Democrats than Crist, the chameleon of party affiliation — especially when the enthusiasm for him hovers between “meh” and “hold your nose and vote”? Is it improbable Rich would receive more votes from moderate Republicans disgruntled with the tea party governor than the GOP-despised “turncoat Charlie”? Is it far-fetched to suggest independents, known for evaluating candidates on merit instead of party affiliation, would be more supportive of Rich?
Given the high level of “anyone but Scott” sentiment, whoever is the Democratic nominee will get plenty of consideration in November. How effective would Crist be working with a predominately Republican Legislature, given the party’s disdain for him? Look no further than President Obama to see the problems that can pose.
Despite conventional wisdom, Rich may have as good a chance, or better, than Crist of beating Scott. Moreover, she would likely be a more effective governor. Nobody knows whether Rich can win the governor’s race. But we can be certain of one thing: not voting for her because she “can’t win” will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.