Now that Republican Governor Charlie Crist has announced he will run for the Senate as an independent rather than Republican, the suddenly three-way Florida senatorial race is getting turned on its head. Once assumed to be a gimme for the Republican candidate, could the race now be open to a Democrat ? Rep. Kendrick Meek, the presumed front-runner for the Democratic nomination, is suddenly competitive. But the Democratic nod isn't sealed and Meek has a tough road ahead.

  • Why This Is Great for Meek The New York Times' Damien Cave explains, "No one would seem to benefit more from a Crist run as an independent than Kendrick Meek, for one simple reason: the numbers are on his side. There are at least 650,000 more registered Democrats in Florida than Republicans, and assuming Mr. Meek wins the primary and registration continues along its expected path, that lead would amount to about two percentage points in November. If he does better with Democratic voters than either Mr. Crist or Mr. Rubio do with Republicans -- and Mr. Crist does not win nearly every independent vote -- Mr. Meek becomes Florida's next senator."
  • Split GOP Hands Meek Victory  Newsmax's Susan Estrich exclaims, "If you'd told me a year ago that Democrats would find themselves within striking distance of picking up a Senate seat in Florida, running an African-American congressman no one outside his district had ever heard of, I'd probably have asked you what you were smoking. But that was before Florida's still-popular Republican governor effectively got booted out of his own party in a conservative takeover that could end with Republicans grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory."
  • Should Meek Go Moderate or Liberal?  The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder asks, "Do Democrat Kendrick Meek and Republican Marco Rubio try to run up their base percentages, trying to keep Crist from building a coalition, or do they try to appeal to the broad middle -- even though the middle doesn't generally turn out in midterm elections?" He answers, "If Meek gets 80 to 85% of the Democratic vote, that's about 40% of the electorate -- a floor of about 30-32% of the overall vote. ... At the same time, if Meek swings too far to the left, he collects very few independents, and can't build on his base."
  • Meek Isn't Guaranteed Dem Nod  NBC News' Domenico Montanaro cautions "while we're all assuming that Kendrick Meek will win the Dem nomination, don't forget that he primary challengers -- including one from the eccentric (but very wealthy) Jeff Greene, who will force Meek to spend a lot of money to win the primary."
  • Meek's Crazy Challenger  Politico's Ben Smith profiles the unlikely Democrat. "Jeff Greene, a flamboyant real estate executive who made more than half a billion dollars betting against the housing market, will announce tomorrow he is seeking the Democratic nomination for Senate in Florida, scrambling an already crowded, high-profile, and expensive race." However, "Meek has the firm support of the national Democratic establishment, who fear that despite Greene's billions, his subprime gamble and his lifestyle -- Mike Tyson was the best man at his wedding -- make him unelectable."