Florida Republican Party circles are hearing increasing talk of conservative dissatisfaction with Gov. Charlie Crist and a possible primary challenge if he runs for the U.S. Senate next year.
Crist's high poll ratings, which muted such criticism early in his term, remain high, pollsters say, but are no longer preventing the talk.
Some conservatives, never happy with Crist's emphasis on racial diversity, environmental regulation and populist willingness to take on big business, are now saying it openly.
"It's the kind of disappointment that's going to have people looking in other directions for leaders," said former state Rep. Dennis Baxley of Ocala, now executive director of the Florida Christian Coalition. "The conservative movement needs a strong leader."
The article confirms that the two most likely folks to take on Crist are former House speakers Marco Rubio and Alan Bense. While the poll numbers look daunting right now, I'd point out that long odds and self-defeating primaries are nothing new to the conservative movement. Incidentally, Pat Toomey had atrocious poll numbers just weeks before his 2004 primary with Arlen Specter; he lost by just two points and is now poised to spank Snarlin' Arlen hard next year in their rematch. Oh, and Crist wouldn't even be the incumbent. It's doable.