A poll released Thursday suggests Gov. Charlie Crist's political career is not over — if he abandons his Republican bid for the U.S. Senate and runs as an independent.
Former House Speaker Marco Rubio has soared 23 points ahead of Crist in a Republican matchup, according to the Quinnipiac University poll. But Crist keeps his head above water as an independent candidate against Rubio as the GOP nominee and U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami as the Democratic standard bearer.
The governor would get 32 percent of the vote, compared to Rubio's 30 percent and Meek's 24 percent, the survey found.
The politically moderate governor has repeatedly dismissed the idea of leaving the Republican Party. But his bleak performance in the polls, combined with increasing hostility from members of his own party, may leave him with little choice. ``If Crist remains in the GOP primary, and absent the type of game-changing scandal of which there is no sign, the governor faces the political equivalent of climbing a 90-degree mountain,'' said Quinnipiac pollster Peter Brown. ``But in a three-way, he has a possible path to the U.S. Senate.''
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