With the Governor's vetoing of SB 6, it seems Crist's fortunes in the GOP primary are set. Now the big question, what's next.
NBC's First readsuggested his advisors were weighing two choices: a run as an NPA and a run against Nelson in 2012. Let's take a quick look.
Running against Nelson in 2012:
This seems like the least likely. He'd have to sit out for two years and run against his closest advisor and one of his best friends. Moreover, from where I sit, it isn't a matchup that does much for Crist. Nelson is a moderate, who has always done well with independents, and given the long-term trajectory of the economy, 2012 is probably a better year for Democrats than 2010.
Taking the express train to NPAville
The challenging math notwithstanding, this seems to be the most likely scenario. While I think it is uphill, Republican smart guy Mac Stipanovich rightly points out that "The political graveyard of Florida is littered with the bodies of people who underestimated Charlie Crist."
That being said, in making this decision, Crist has a daunting challenge. Right now, it is a little like a climber trying to decide which path to climb K2: regardless of the road taken, political death is a very real outcome.
Can he win the GOP primary? With Jeb now freely open to endorse Marco Rubio, the answer is no. Sure, strange things always happen in politics, but Marco seems to be free in the wind right now.
Can he win as an NPA? It is tough. In recent political history, independent candidate wins have only happened when then one of the major political parties nominated either an extremely weak candidate, or didn't nominate one at all. The only exception, arguably, would be Minnesota in 1998, when Jesse Ventura won, but this isn't exactly Minnesota.
But more than the vote goal challenge of reaching a plurality, there is another really significant challenge to Crist winning in November: Money.
As my good friend Jim Davis (who by the way, is one of the finest people I've ever known in public service) knows all too well, money has never been a challenge in Crist's at least recent political career. Even in the depths of his GOP primary challenge, he continues to raise money at a remarkable clip, and has banked 10 million dollars. But the day he makes the switch, it will get tough. Sure, some loyal Crist donors will remain with him, but most will defect to Rubio.
Crist will start with 100 percent name identification, but that doesn't mean he can be out-communicated by his opponent and get to the finish line in first. He will need to spend $20-30 million to pull this off and right now, he starts at $10million.
Further, most of the DC institutional cash will go to either Meek or Rubio, and online 'movement' giving tends to not flow to pragmatic moderates. But then again, Crist has one option he didn't have in 2006, the possibility of dipping into personal resources.