Those of us who know what drives opportunist politicians have said for a long time that former Florida Republican-turned-independent governor — and all-around backstabber — Charlie Crist would make another run for a statewide political office sooner rather than later.

However, in the past few weeks, many more in the Florida political intelligentsia are coming to the realization that a Crist political comeback may actually happen, specifically as a Democrat running against current Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

It is no secret that Gov. Scott has had low approval numbers since he first entered office.  Some attribute it to Florida’s economy, others to his overall governing style. Regardless, Crist enjoyed sky-high approval numbers four years ago today, only to see them collapse.

However, if Gov. Scott is plagued by low approval numbers for a sufficiently long stretch, other politicians will see it as an opportunity.  It’s like releasing blood into a pool of sharks.  And Charlie Crist is quite the political animal, although more like a chameleon than a shark.  But I digress.

Those of you outside of Florida may recall Crist was the putative Republican governor who governed far enough to the left to be called “one of the best Democratic governors Florida has ever had” by a Democratic state senator.  Halfway through his term, it became evident he was pining for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Mel Martinez.  In a stunning act of cronyism, he appointed his former campaign manager and Chief of- Staff George LeMieux to warm the seat for him. LeMieux had never served in public office and was unknown to just about every Floridian outside a five block radius of the Florida Capitol.

All was going well for Crist until a conservative former Florida House speaker named Marco Rubio challenged Crist from the right.  Everyone assumed Crist would win, but when his political fortunes changed and polls showed Rubio ahead by double digits, Crist bolted the GOP and ran for Senate as an independent.  As everyone knows, he went on to lose that race and left the governor’s mansion in January 2011 without a party to call home.

Since then, however, Crist has managed to send signals that he is anything but done with politics, which has led to this recent spike in speculation that he may indeed run again.  For example, when he left office, he was immediately hired by the statewide trial lawyer firm Morgan & Morgan as its spokesman on television and billboards statewide.  In recent months, however, the firm has ramped up its advertising featuring Crist and as some Tallahassee insiders noted, the firm even purchased a large billboard bearing Crist’s image right across the street from the governor’s mansion.    They have also opened an office in Tallahassee, which many see as odd, since Tallahassee quite simply does not have the potential caseload of litigation that other much larger Florida cities have for a firm like this.

But assuming Crist’s higher profile is a mere coincidence, or internal business decision of the firm, what is really causing a lot of buzz in Tallahassee are his recent public statements and positions indicating he is trying to court Democrats.  For example, he recently joined the chorus of Democrats nationwide “bashing” Gov. Scott and his administration over the issue of purging non-citizens from the voter rolls.  He also recently endorsed incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson over Republican challenger Connie Mack IV, son of the former senator whom Crist worked for and has held long ties with. I believe it’s only a matter of time until he endorses President Barack Obama, who could use Crist’s help to “woo independent voters,” as Politico noted.

And of course, there are the polls.  One conducted in May has Crist beating Scott 48% to 34%, which caused Crist himself to not rule out a possible 2014 run.

Democrats may see Crist as an opportunity to regain power in a state they have not dominated for well over a decade, but they should probably weigh such prospects against the risk of supporting someone like Crist, who has viewed every political office and obviously his own party as a mere step in his perpetual career climb—something to be used and then discarded when no longer useful.  If he betrayed his longtime supporters and the party under whose banner he ran his entire life, what loyalty can Democrats expect?

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