With Charlie Crist’s Tuesday announcement that he was jumping into the race to succeed retiring US Senator Mel Martinez, the political dominos are beginning to fall in Florida.
Within a week, Florida CFO Alex Sink (D) is expected to announce her intentions to run for Governor. So is Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum (R). So is Agriculture Secretary Charles Bronson (R). That would mean all of Florida’s Cabinet positions will now be open. So, who is running?
State Senator Dave Aronberg (D-Ft. Myers) will soon announce his candidacy for Attorney General. (His website currently shows “Under Construction.”) Rumors abound that State Senator Dan Gelber (D-Miami Beach), currently a Democratic candidate for the US Senate seat, might also be interested. Another potential candidate on the Democratic side is former State Senator (and Gubernatorial candidate) Rod Smith (R-Alachua). The Republican candidates are less clear, perhaps State Rep. Adam Hasner (R-Palm Beach) or State Rep. Dean Cannon (R-Winter Park).
The race for Chief Financial Officer is wide open on both sides. Alex Sink was expected to be a shoo-in and no major candidates had expressed interest because of that. Perhaps former State Senator Tom Lee (R) will give it another shot. Current Senate President Jeff Atwater (R) appears to be the only one in the race at this point.
The race for Agriculture Secretary is already underway. US Rep. Adam Putnam (R) already has his campaign website up and running. At this point, it appears that there are no significant challengers to him.
The most interesting race in the state to watch; however, will be the US Senate race. The National Republican Senatorial Committee has already weighed in on the Florida race, despite their promises to stay out of it last week. They have endorsed Crist, something that will only encourage Marco Rubio in his outside bid to “claim” the nomination for “conservatives.” Jim Greer, the Chairman of the Florida Republican Party, is a close ally of Gov. Crist and will most likely make overt moves to back him in the primary as well. According to sources, a key figure in the Florida GOP leadership also told a Republican crowd this weekend that he is working to “clear the field” in the Gubernatorial race, meaning that the GOP is moving avoid a nasty primary. (Of course, nothing speaks to democracy like an attempt by party power brokers to “clear the field.”)
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the flurry of activity around the new candidates for statewide office is that there is nary a mention of a North Floridian among them. That’s right, Jacksonville—long one of the dominant cities in fielding Florida Governors over the years—has no one ready to step up to higher office. What does that say about the people we’ve been sending to Tallahassee for the last two decades?