Wednesday morning will be dreadful for at least one of Florida’s candidates for governor. After a long night, either Democrat Charlie Crist or Republican Rick Scott will stare in the mirror and see a loser. And this loser will never again succeed in politics.
It will be over.
For Crist, a loss after the quixotic twirl from Republican to independent to Democrat would be an utter and humiliating defeat. His new Democratic Party friends will quickly forget his cell phone number. Democrats will go back to fretting about who might lead the party in what will continue to look like a cloudy future for them in the Sunshine State.
For Scott, a loss would end a startlingly quick and brief career in politics. Even Jeb Bush had to play the game of being a state employee as former Governor Bob Martinez's Commerce Department secretary. And Bush had to lose a very difficult race in 1994 before defeating Democrat Buddy McKay four years later. He is beloved by many Florida Republican and who have made him their fantasy president.
Not so Rick Scott. No one suggests that Scott is presidential material. No one looks to him to be a potential Veep. Even if Scott wins, that dynamic will not change. Scott's sudden emergence in Florida politics won him numerous friends out of necessity. If Scott loses, Republicans will abandon him as quickly as they embraced him because they had nowhere else to go.
One of these gentlemen is going to be very lonely on Wednesday.
Losing is tough.
Another group of losers will be the highly paid consultants who developed the campaign strategy, assured the candidate he could win, and blew it, in large part, because the strategy did not work. Consultants will not take the blame for a loss. Instead, they will quietly explain to friendly reporters that the plan would have worked if only the candidate could have pulled it off. They will blame the weather, who had more money, fickle voters, rain, the full moon.
But consultants really never lose. There is always the next campaign.
Should Crist win, the insular world of Tallahassee will look like the Walking Dead. Shell shocked lobbyists will worry that they did not give enough hedge-your-bet money to Crist. They will frantically reach out offering to be part of the transition team, host the inaugural, - golly Charlie, what can we do to help?
For decades a number of lobbyists in Tallahassee bragged that they learned at the feet of beloved governors LeRoy Collins, Reubin Askew, Bob Graham, and Lawton Chiles. They were loyal Democrats who dismissed Republicans as a mere inconvenience.
When Jeb Bush and the GOP took over Tallahassee, some of those acolytes suddenly discovered they were quite conservative after all. Expect some similar conversions (complicated by a still conservative legislature) to take place if Crist wins.
Another loser could be the Tallahassee Press Corps. If Scott wins, his loathing of the media and
deep felt belief that the public has no business knowing the public's business is likely to flower.
Should Crist win, he will likely embrace the media, as he has always done, but perhaps a bit more cautiously. Access to public records should be less of a problem.
Pity the ambitious folks on Florida's Cabinet if Crist wins. For CFO Jeff Atwater, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, a successful Crist term as governor could stall their ambition to become governor.
If Scott wins, he is out of governor's mansion at the end of his term creating an open seat for the Cabinet trio to salivate over. One of them might run against incumbent Crist but it's no fun running against the guy who already has the job.
Which brings us to 2016.
On Wednesday both Scott and Crist should announce they have no interest in being anyone's running mate - and really mean it. Especially Crist.
If Scott wins, expect to start hearing that he will run for the U.S. Senate. Democratic Senator Bill Nelson is up for reelection and some Democrats are convinced he will not run.
Even if Nelson did decide to go for a fourth term, Scott has shown he is willing to spend whatever money it takes to win.
If Crist wins, expect him to run for a second term.
And finally, this prediction.
If Scott loses, he leaves Florida (I want to live closer to my grandchildren).
If Crist loses, he returns to John Morgan's law firm but the giant Morgan billboards with Crist looking down, will disappear, just like Crist.
Art by Patrick Crowley Copyright @Crowley Political Report. All rights reserved.