Posted on | May 13, 2010 | 26 Comments
OK, so who the heck is Michelle Todd? Her name popped up in this story about Charlie Crist:
Gov. Charlie Crist told MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough on April 30 that he would “probably” give refunds to donors who don’t approve of him leaving the GOP. . . .
No more. . . . [C]ampaign spokeswoman Michelle Todd said there will be no refunds. Asked whether that amounts to a flip-flop, she said, “We have never made an official statement before. It is now the official statement. They donated to the Charlie Crist for U.S. Senate Campaign, and it’s still the Charlie Crist for U.S. Senate Campaign.”
Republicans have now written down her name on their persona non grata list. Michelle Todd is henceforth an un-person to the GOP, and everybody else who does one day’s work for the Crist campaign will find their names on the same list.
One of the reasons Charlie Crist thought he could get away with this betrayal was his erroneous supposition that he could hire competent campaign staff to replace those who resigned en masse when he announced he would run as an independent.
Knowing a thing or two about how these things work, however, I explained on Ladd Ehlinger’s radio show this week that Crist would have extreme difficulty finding staff because (a) he’s doomed to defeat, and (b) any Republican operative who hires on with a Crist independent campaign will be committing career suicide.
Some conservatives have been freaked out by polls showing Crist leading a three-way race, evidently forgetting that, a year ago, the same polls showed Marco Rubio trailing Crist by 30 points in the GOP primary. There are four basic reasons Crist is doomed to defeat:
- Crist will get no more Republican money. Fundraising is crucial to politics, and there are no direct-mail lists of “raging moderates” who will donate to an independent Crist campaign. It was estimated in late April that Crist quit the GOP race with $6 million cash-on-hand. Based on his previous “burn rate,” he’s unlikely to have half that amount remaining by Labor Day. Florida is a large state where running TV ads statewide (from Miami to Orlando to Jacksonville to Pensacola) is very expensive. Crist will get buried under an avalanche of TV ads in September and October.
- Crist has no campaign “ground game” infrastructure. Who will be county chairmen and precinct captains for Crist? Where will he find volunteers to staff local offices, working the phones and handing out yard signs? Crist must build a campaign apparatus from scratch, while Rubio will have the well-established election machinery of the Republican Party working for him. As Rubio’s senior advisors said in a memo last month, “Florida’s county GOP offices are some of the most organized and sophisticated in the country . . . Crist will be starting from scratch to recruit, organize and mobilize volunteers for his campaign, whereas both Marco and [Democratic candidate Kendrick] Meek will have built-in volunteer networks to draw from.”
- Nobody trusts a traitor. And nobody respects a quitter, as Arlen Specter is belatedly learning. Like Specter’s switch to the Democrats, Crist’s decision to go independent was pure selfishness. Crist had expected his handpicked state GOP chairman Jim Greer to deliver the Senate nomination on a silver platter, and when that didn’t happen, Crist decided to take his ball and go home. Think of how that lends itself to a devastating 30-second TV ad.
- Rubio will win the debates. For nearly a year, Crist avoided debating Rubio. Once they finally met in a debate — March 28 on “Fox News Sunday” — it was obvious why, and Crist quit the GOP primary less than a month later. At some point this fall, Crist will have to share a debate stage with Rubio and the Democrat, Meek. Charlie will lose that debate, too, for the simple reason that there is no persuasive political rationale for Crist’s candidacy. If Florida voters want an Obama-hugging, stimulus-endorsing, liberal stooge for Harry Reid, they’ll support Kendrick Meek.
Crist is doomed and, after Nov. 2, Crist’s campaign staffers like Michelle Todd are going to find themselves not merely unemployed, but unemployable.