WASHINGTON -- The Tea Party movement may be on the verge of claiming a political victim. And he's not a Democrat - he's a Republican.
Florida's Republican Gov. Charlie Crist says he is considering leaving the GOP to run as an Independent for the U.S. Senate.
Time to Move On?
Crist has seen better days. The once popular Florida governor may be wondering what Mack truck hit him.
It turns out House Speaker Marco Rubio, R-Fla. is the truck. He's the conservative, Tea Party-loving candidate challenging Crist for Florida's Senate seat.
In a political climate of fiscal discipline and tea bags, Crist's centrist resume is no longer playing well in 2010.
The Tea Party mobilized against him and Crist didn't help himself when he appeared on stage with President Obama touting the big stimulus bill. According to Rubio, it was a major blunder.
"When Charlie Crist stood on that stage and became one of the only Republicans, prominent Republicans, in the country to campaign for the stimulus - not just to endorse it, but to campaign for the stimulus - he cut the legs out from underneath all of those people that were working so hard to offer an alternative," Rubio said.
With his poll numbers having taken a nose dive, Crist could star in his own movie version of "Legends of the Fall."
In August of 2009, he handily beat Rubio 53-31 percent. By December, they were tied and now Rubio is up by nearly 30 points.
The Hand Writing on the Wall
Reading the hand writing on the wall, Crist is now thinking of getting out of the GOP and running as an Independent.
"I can tell you I'm getting a lot of advice in that direction," Crist said. "I'm a listener and so I'm certainly listening to it."
He would be wise to do so, considering he may be able to win the Senate race as an Independent.
But make no mistake, the Tea Party movement is trying to change the GOP and bring it back to its conservative roots.
Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., who is a main player in that movement, told CBN News centrist-thinking Republicans from the party like Crist are a real problem.
"I think we're seeing with Charlie Crist it's not about principle," DeMint said. "It's not about the Republican Party. It's about the numbers and if the numbers don't work in the Republican Party, he's looking to see if they'll work as an Independent. We don't need to build a Republican Party around people like that."
It's a message Florida's governor seems to be getting loud and clear.