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The Party's Over For Charlie Crist

A new poll has Marco Rubio ahead of Charlie Crist in the Florida GOP Senate primary. The trajectory here is pretty obvious: Crist built an early lead based on name recognition, but Rubio is obviously the candidate Florida Republicans prefer and are going to nominate. As I've said before, I don't even expect Crist to be running in the primary when it happens. He has no chance.

The question is, what will Crist do next? As I see it, he has two options. First, he can bow out of the primary, campaign energetically for Rubio in November, and hope the party moves to the center far enough for him to run again at some future date. Second, he can make the case that the party has gotten too extreme for him -- a legitimate case, as Crist is genuinely moderate on most of the key issues -- and run for Senate as an independent or as a Democrat. Neither option is particularly easy, though the second seems easier than the first.

And now it looks like Crist just might be thinking along the same lines. Apparently he plans to join President Obama for his political appearance this week in Tampa. Last October, when Crist still held a lead over Rubio, he skipped out on Obama's Florida visit. This time he's going to be there. Politico describes this as a strange choice:

Confounding observers who attribute Crist’s vulnerability to his support for parts of the White House’s agenda, the governor said he might join Obama during a presidential visit to Tampa Thursday.

I'm not confounded. The question is whether the Democrats are smart enough to woo Crist, who's their only plausible vehicle to win that Senate seat this year.