What About That Open U.S. Senate Seat?
So, let’s recap…
Senator Mel “Somewhat Unpopular and Not Really Respected By His Constituents” Martinez has decided not to stand to for re-election and get beaten by a termed Florida state senator with a “D” after their name on the ballot and pulse (take your pick – the list of people who had at least a 50% chance of beating Martinez and who were thinking about running includes your next door neighbor; your grandmother; members of Mel’s immediate family).
Jeb Bush decided not to run for the U.S. Senate. This is more interesting. There are two sides to this issue. The first is the well publicized notion that Jeb is not really suited for legislative work. He is an impatient man and famous for holding grudges and generally, none of his virtues or vices would play well in Senate. No one doubts that he wants to be President and that he needs a way to stay in the political limelight, but perhaps the Senate would not have been the right place to do that.
The other side of the issue is this – he could lose. Yes, I would not have bet on it. Despite his brother’s Marianas Trench level numbers, Jeb is still reasonably popular in Florida and has a brand separate from his father and brother. And yet… if there was ever a time when Jeb could lose a statewide race in Florida, with the Bush name near its lowest ebb, this was that time.
Unlikely? Of course. But so unlikely that he would risk his entire future political career on it? Because losing this race would have permanently put a stake through the heart of his presidential ambitions – he would be both a “Bush” and a loser.
CFO and Democrat Alex Sink is seriously considering the race and, in the absence of Jeb, would be considered a prohibitive favorite and would probably see the field cleared for her (no disrespect to Congressman Kendrick Meeks). But we haven’t heard much recently and, as noted, Rep. Meeks is already gearing up.
On the Republican side, Jeb appears to have given his blessing to former state house Speaker Marco Rubio to run, but he’ll have to prove himself. He would be an exciting candidate – a young Latino with a long future ahead of him, but…
Attorney General Bill McCollum wants it. He wants it so bad he can taste it with every breath of Florida air he takes. And, he has won two statewide Republican primaries and one statewide general election. Rubio has won… a state house seat. Yes, he was Speaker, but let’s face it – if our current Speaker, Mr. Sansom, hadn’t been spending the last months a hair’s breadth away from being indicted by a grand jury, would you be able to name him?
Finally, NRSC Chairman, Texas Senator John Cornyn, is desperately trying to recruit Charlie Crist. In addition to being horribly insulting to Rubio and McCollum, Cornyn is probably kidding himself.
Crist – despite the fact that he is very close to presiding over the complete collapse of budget and who will, in all likelihood, face such a massive deficit in 2009-2010 that he will be forces to sell all of our kindergarten-age children to a shady multinational conglomerate who will put them to work sewing socks next to illegal immigrants – is a pretty safe bet for re-election and might look at life in the Senate minority and decided to bet on Bill Nelson retiring an opening that seat up in 2012 when things don’t look quite so bleak.