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Will Crist Appoint Diaz-Balart to Get Rid of Rubio?

August 16, 2009 Crist is in an unenviable position. The Governor has been faced with the resignation of Senator Mel Martinez, creating an early vacancy for the seat Crist has been campaigning to fill in 2010. Crist also faces the challenge of an increasingly competitive primary election against the upstart Marco Rubio, who has garnered considerable grassroots support.

What will he do?

He won’t appoint someone who would challenge him next year. He won’t appoint someone who conflicts with the Republican base he needs in the primary. Same the with independent voters he needs in the general election. He might be able to appoint a non-Latino, but he probably won’t take the risk. Regardless, Charlie Crist is in a tough spot.

On Friday, Crist sent an application to three potential appointees for the Senate seat. Among the three is U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, which has sparked considerable speculation that Crist is looking for a ‘two birds, one stone’ scenario.

The idea is that Crist will appoint Diaz-Balart to the vacated seat in the U.S. Senate. This would open Diaz-Balart’s congressional seat for a special election, one which Marco Rubio would have an excellent chance winning. With Rubio in the congressional seat, he would likely drop out of contention with Crist, who could then set his sights on the 2010 general election.

There are some obstacles to such a clean scenario. There is a good chance Diaz-Balart might not be terribly excited about giving up his seat in Congress for a two-year fixed term in the Senate, which would give most politicians an understandable reason to pause.

Additionally, when asked about the Diaz-Balart appointment, Rubio told reporters, “It’s been an unusual political year but the fact now is I’m running for the U.S. Senate.” However, we had to notice Rubio’s qualification of “now” in his statement. It’s entirely possible that Rubio is being a shrewd operator and keeping his cards close to his chest.

With Crist making his selection in the very near future, we may soon learn how many hurdles Charlie Crist can leap in his campaign to become a United States Senator.

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