He just can't help himself: former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist might run for the U.S. Senate in 2016, a bid that would mark the fourth time in ten years he's sought statewide office in the Sunshine State.
"It's very early, but he's being encouraged to seriously consider bringing the people's voice to the U.S. Senate," Kevin Cate, an adviser to Crist, told CNN on Wednesday. "And he always listens closely to Floridians."
For those of you keeping track at home: Crist first ran for governor in 2006 as a Republican, winning a four-year term. Instead of running for reelection in 2010, though, Crist decided to run for the Senate. But after his support for President Obama's 2009 stimulus package tanked his reputation among conservatives, he was chased out of the Republican primary by former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio. Crist ran in November's general election as an independent, losing by 19 points to Rubio. He then began aligning himself with the Democratic Party, endorsing Mr. Obama's reelection in 2012, and in 2014, he ran for governor as a Democrat. He was narrowly defeated last November by incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott.
It's a relatively inauspicious recent track record - the last time he won statewide was in 2006 - but it hasn't discouraged Crist from considering another bid. Two Florida Democratic sources told CNN Crist has been "making calls" about the race to party officials and donors in recent weeks.
The development adds one more name the already-crowded list of Florida Democrats who might run for the Senate in 2016. Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, is considering a bid, as is South Florida Congressman Patrick Murphy. Other names cycling through the rumor mill include Rep. Gwen Graham, the daughter of former Gov. Bob Graham who arrived in Congress earlier this year, Rep. Alan Grayson, a fiery liberal from the Orlando area, and Rep. Kathy Castor, who represents the Tampa Bay area.
One unknown variable in the mix is Rubio, who is considering a presidential bid and has said he will not run for reelection to the Senate if he decides to seek the White House. Rubio remains a popular figure in the state, and if he decides to run for reelection, the list of Democrats eyeing the race could potentially dwindle.
On one hand, Crist's interest in a bid can't be dismissed too easily: He's won statewide before, and his perennial political presence has given him a level of name recognition that's hard to achieve in a state as big as Florida. And despite being vastly outspent, he nearly ousted an incumbent Republican governor in 2014 - a terrible year for Democrats across the country. It's conceivable that Crist would have a better shot at statewide office in a presidential year, with a popular Democrat atop the ticket increasing the party's turnout in down-ballot races.
But there's also no denying Crist has acquired a reputation as damaged goods. Republicans have mocked him as a political shape shifter, willing to do or say whatever it takes to land himself back in elected office, and some GOP operatives are eager to make that case again in 2016.
"There was a moment when Charlie Crist's potent name ID, charisma, and crossover appeal was intimidating," Republican strategist Rick Wilson told CBS News. "This is not that moment."