So, Who's Going to Lose to Charlie?
It would still benefit Democrats to put up a strong, relatively well funded candidate with wide appeal, and if I'm a politician in the state who might fit that description I'd be seriously thinking about it.
For one, you never know what could happen. Back when the Dems were getting in line for the 1992 presidential primary George Bush I had 89% approval ratings, and seemed a sure thing for re-election, so all the heavyweights decided to wait until '96, and by God, weird things like Ross Perot and a "Read My Lips"-backlash happened and some little known Governor from Arkansas became President.
A strong Governor candidate would also help turn out. Let's say the Senate primary results in some sort of Geographic divide. The northern democrats line up behind one candidate, and South Florida lines up behind another. If the Gov candidate comes from a different region, it will help over all dem turn out, which could be a determining factor in what may be a close Senate race, and hopefully restore some balance to the State Legislature.
The Republicans are going to continue their aggressive campaign to appeal to Hispanics, so it might benefit Democrats, who have never run a Hispanic for Governor or Senate, to have a strong Latino leader at the top of their ticket, too.
No one's going to want to lose, but if the candidate runs a strong campaign and gets better than expected numbers he or she will be in a good position to run again in 2014, or call dibbs if Bill Nelson decided to retire. Remember, Charlie Crist himself was the sacrificial lamb the Republican put up against Bob Graham for senate in '96 and it seemed to have turned out fine for him.
Or, you know, they could do what they did in the Senate election of '94, and let some loser brother of a first lady duke it on in the primary with a KKK grand wizard and pretty much throw in the towel before the fight even starts.