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Charlie Crist: There and Back Again?

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Crist, the first Florida governor not to run for reelection since 1964, could become just the second governor of the Sunshine State to win nonconsecutive terms

charliecrist10.jpgWith recent polls showing rosy political prospects for Charlie Crist in the state of Florida, one wonders how his political path (and partisan identification) might have unfolded had he decided to run for reelection as governor in 2010 instead of his ill-fated U.S. Senate bid.

Crist first ran for the Senate as a Republican that cycle, switched to a non-affiliated status after it was clear he would not become the GOP nominee, and then, two years after his defeat to Marco Rubio, officially switched his partisan affiliation to the Democratic Party.

Crist was the first elected governor of the Sunshine State who did not run for reelection since Democrat Farris Bryant in 1964:

· Four governors won two consecutive terms: Democrats Reubin Askew (1970, 1974), Bob Graham (1978, 1982), Lawton Chiles (1990, 1994), and Republican Jeb Bush (1998, 2002).

· Two governors lost their reelection bid: Republicans Claude Kirk (1970) to Reubin Askew and Bob Martinez (1990) to Lawton Chiles.

· One governor lost his party's primary: Democrat Haydon Burns (1966) in a run-off against Robert King High.

If Crist runs for governor, receives the Democratic Party nomination, and defeats Republican incumbent (and expected nominee) Rick Scott, he would become just the second Florida governor in state history to serve two nonconsecutive terms.

Prior to the late 1800s, governors were allowed to serve only one consecutive term in Florida.

However, since the adoption of the 1968 state constitution, governors are limited only as follows: "No person who has, or but for resignation would have, served as governor or acting governor for more than six years in two consecutive terms shall be elected governor for the succeeding term." (Article IV, Section 5).

Only one governor has served nonconsecutive terms in the history of the state - Democrat William Bloxham in the 19th Century.

In 1880, Bloxham was elected by 9.8 points over Republican Simon Conover and then, sixteen years later, carried the state by 46.3 points over E.R. Gunby in a three-candidate contest in 1896.

That was actually the third time Bloxham's name had been on the general election ballot. He was defeated running as a Liberal Republican in 1872 by 4.8 points to GOPer Ossian Hart.

Crist, of course, has not yet declared his candidacy for the Democratic Party nomination.

But polls conducted in mid-March by Quinnipiac and Public Policy Polling both showed Crist with a double-digit leader over Governor Scott.

Florida Democratic Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich has already launched her campaign.

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Remains of the Data

Plurality-Winning Governors Elected At Century-Long High Water Mark

The rate of gubernatorial candidates elected without the support of a majority of voters is at its highest level since the 1910s.

Political Crumbs

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When the 114th Congress convenes in a few days, Maine will be represented by one home-grown U.S. Representative: Waterville-born Republican Bruce Poliquin. With the departure of Millinocket-born Mike Michaud, who launched a failed gubernatorial bid, the Pine Tree State was poised to send a House delegation to D.C. without any Maine-born members for the first time since 1821. Three-term U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (born in Minnesota) coasted to reelection as expected, however Poliquin edged Kentucky-born Emily Cain by 5.3 points to keep the streak alive. Since 1876, a total of 208 of the 222 candidates elected to the nation's lower legislative chamber from the state have been born in Maine, or 94 percent.


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