No matter who winds up in the campaign for governor in 2014, Charlie Crist — the former governor, former Republican, former independent and presumptive Democrat nominee — will have to contend with a formidable rival who’s not even on the ballot, and that would be … Charlie Crist.
Some candidates “evolve.” Others flip-flop. Crist defies categorization. As has become increasingly clear since he bolted the GOP in shameless, transmogrifying pursuit of the U.S. Senate in 2010, Crist’s appetite for public office is so utterly consuming, he will endorse any assortment of policies in desperate hope of aggregating 51 percent of the electorate.
To say he’s an opportunistic chameleon is to libel grifters and lizards in the same breath. Crist — “a political contortionist of remarkable flexibility,” according to pundit George Will — has, in the time it takes to grow from kindergarten to middle school, assumed more positions than a Chinese gymnast, but to less entertaining effect.
If they have become anything like their blue-state cousins, Crist’s contortions on every major issue of the last eight years will not matter to Florida’s Democrat voters, because their commitment to taking and holding power will overwhelm their natural tendency to reject hypocrisy. And also because they despise Rick Scott, the incumbent.
The electorate in the general election may be more inclined to give Crist’s personal malleability the critical attention it deserves. If so, National Review Online columnist Jim Geraghty’s brief preview of Crist vs. Crist — in which Old Charlie debates New Charlie on everything from abortion to tax hikes to voter fraud to energy policy — will be a better than good place to start