Charlie Crist is getting into the US Senate race. Start the music!
And now the other members of the Florida cabinet-- Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum, Republican Agriculture Secretary Charles Bronson, and Democratic CFO Alex Sink -- may well run for Crists' soon to be vacant Governor spot.
Crist's formal announcement for his Senate bid, made this morning, will set off a statewide game of musical chairs with a whole bunch of state lawmakers, many getting bumped from office by term limits, running for those other cabinet posts.
Senate President Jeff Atwater of Palm Beach, a Republican and a direct descendant of legendary Florida pol Napoleon Bonaparte Broward, is likely to run for Chief Financial Officer. A couple of other State Senators from Broward, Democrats Jeremy Ring and Ted Deutch, are sniffing that race, as well.
For Attorney General, ex-State Senator Rod Smith -- whose bid for Governor went nowhere in '06 -- might try to return to politics in this race (look for constant reminders that, as State Attorney in Gainesville, he prosecuted serial killer Danny Rolling). State Senator Dave Aronberg (D-Palm Beach) is frank about his interest. And Miami Beach State Sen. Dan Gelber may get out of the Democratic race for US Senate, and run for AG instead.
On the Republican side, a couple of major Crist allies may compete. Lt. Gvr. Jeff Kottkamp may give this race a try, though his political brand has been damaged by the taxpayer thousands he spent shuttling back and forth between Tally and his home near Ft. Myers. And former Crist Chief-of-Staff George Lemieux-- the man who negotiated the Seminole Gaming Compact on behalf of the state-- might be an AG candidate.
For Agriculture Commissioner-- Cong. Adam Putnam of Bartow, just last year part of GOP leadership on Capitol Hill, is the early favorite. Republican State Senator Carey Baker of Eustis is also running. Democrats, who haven't fielded a serious Agriculture Commish candidate in years, don't have one yet this time, either.
The bottom line is that Florida has six statewide elective offices. Five of them will be on next year's ballot, none with an incumbent seeking re-election. It's political open season like Florida has never seen before.