Charlie Crist may be back in the political game.
The Republican governor who became an independent when it was clear he was set to lose to Marco Rubio in the 2010 Republican Senate primary in Florida is now leading as a Democrat in a hypothetical match-up to return to the governor’s mansion.
Crist leads Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott by 12 percentage points, 50 percent to 38 percent, according to a new survey by Public Policy Polling.
While Crist has yet to officially declare his candidacy for the 2014 race, he leads the only declared Democratic candidate — former Florida Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich — in a potential primary by 43 percentage points, 59 percent to 16 percent, with 25 percent undecided.
Crist, however, is no stranger to leading by large margins early only to see them evaporate. When the first polls were taken of his 2010 Senate primary in May 2009, he was besting Rubio by nearly 40 percentage points. By the time he dropped out of the Republican primary in April 2013, he was down nearly 30 percentage points.
Running in the general election as an independent, Crist went on to lose to Rubio by 19 percentage points, 48.9 percent to 29.7 percent, with Democrat Kendrick Meek attracting 20.2 percent.
Since being retired from political office, Crist has starred in at least one humiliating TV ad for
an ambulance-chasing a personal injury law firm.
According to the PPP poll, Crist’s strong showing has more to do with the continued unpopularity of Scott than his own popularity. Only 33 percent of Floridians approve of Scott’s job performance, according to the poll, while 55 percent say they disapprove. As for Crist, Floridans seem divided, with 43 percent saying they have a favorable opinion of him and 42 percent saying they have an unfavorable opinion.
Crist was spotted Monday night in Washington, D.C. at a fancy fundraiser for Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe at the home of Hillary Clinton. He is expected to announce his decision on a run this fall.
The PPP poll surveyed 579 Florida voters and has a margin of error of 4.1 percent. Though PPP is a Democratic-leaning outfit, it was rated as the most accurate polling firm of the 2012 presidential election.