Senatorial Dominoes

   Decision ’10 is on, with a bang.  Mel Martinez’ decision to vacate his Senate seat after just one term has the Florida political world buzzing about potential replacements, and speculating as to how the electoral dominoes will fall.

  On the Republican side, it all starts with the Gov and the ex-Gov. 

  Few expect Charlie Crist to go after the Senate seat.  His campaign “maestro”, George Lemieux, is quoted as saying he expects Crist to run for a second term as Governor.

  But Jeb Bush might be interested.  His spokeswoman put out a statement saying Bush “has not given serious consideration to running for Senate…at this point.”   That sort of squishy prose certainly won’t discourage speculation Bush is interested, and at least one Bush intimate is spreading the word (to the Herald and NBC 6’s Tom Llamas, among others) that Bush is seriously considering a Senate run, and may decide by early next year.

  The Senate would be an odd fit for Bush.  He’s used to running things, and might chafe in a legislative role.  He can be harsh in disagreement, whereas the Senate’s tradition is clubby and collegial (less so now, but still…)

  The Senate would be a great platform for a guy who says his focus is “advocating ideas and policies to get the conservative  cause back on track”— that’s the back half of the statement put out on Bush’s behalf. 

   If Jeb doesn’t want to run, it could open the floodgates.  Attorney General Bill McCollum says he’d been planning a re-election bid, but will weigh the possibility of a Senate run.  Former Speaker Marco Rubio calls the Martinez seat a “unique opportunity” for someone like himself– “obviously interested in statewide office”, as he put it.  Rubio’s a Bush acolyte, but if Jeb’s not in, he almost certainly will be.

   Another ex-Speaker, Allen Bense, will think about a run.  One current lawmaker thinks Senate President Jeff Atwater might make a run, as might the ex-Senate Pres, Ken Pruitt.  Those in state office don’t have to resign to run for a Federal office, thanks to a state law passed a couple of years ago.

   Congress-folk wanting to move up to Senate would, however, have to relinquish their safe seats in order to make a run.  Republican Reps mentioned as potential Senate candidates include Adam Putnam and Connie Mack (son, of course, of a former Senator).

   State GOP chair Jim Greer says his phone’s ringing off the hook.  He expects lots of Republicans to investigate a Senate run, but figures that the price tag ($25-million?!) and the time investment required will scare away many.

   Democrats had seen the Martinez seat as a potential pick-up all along (a Quinnipiac poll showed Sen. Mel running 4 points behind a generic Democratic opponent).  Just this morning, Politico.com had reported that the leading Democratic challenger– CFO had decided over Thanksgiving weekend, noat to run.  Sink isn’t talking now, in the wake of Martinez’ announcement, but some think she’ll reconsider.

  Just-elected State Senator Dan Gelber’s looking a US Senate run, even pointing out his web site’s already entitled “Gelber for Senate”.  Gelber, who worked on the staff of the Senate Investigations Committee, says he’ll be talking over making a run with his wife and kids, but he sounds enthusiastic about the prospect to me.

  Again, a guy like Gelber could run for Federal office without giving up his State Senate seat.  US Reps like Kendrick Meek, Ron Klein, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Kathy Castor, and Allen Boyd would have to resign to run… and several of them have a lot to lose.

  Wasserman-Schultz, for instance, has had a high profile as an Obama talk-show surrogate, and is on Nancy Pelosi’s leadership team.  One Capitol Hill aide familiar with her thinking says Wasserman-Schultz is almost certainly out “unless there are no good Democrats running and the Republican opponent is Katherine Harris.”

  Boyd– a blue-dog Dem from the Panhandle– says he’s thinking about mounting a Senate bid.  If a number of more liberal South Florida Democrats get in the Senate race, Boyd could get the nomination–  remember, there are no runoffs.

    Any Democrat other than Sink would have to get going soon, to build statewide name recognition and a lot of campaign cash.

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One Response

  1. Jeb is the best and was also the best governor this state has ever had. Jeb would win hands down and Sink is so weak she was afraid to even run against Mel Martinez and that tells you how strong she thinks she is. Crist is a wimp with no guts or conviction and it would be fantastic to have a strong leader here in Florida again. If Crist wasn’t governor Jim Greer wouldn’t have any bags to carry and nothing to do so we would have to add one more name to the unemployment numbers.

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