Gov. Charlie Crist is expected to announce Tuesday that he is running for the U.S. Senate, setting off a high-stakes game of musical chairs that will completely overhaul the top echelon of state government in 2010.
Crist's former chief-of-staff, George LeMieux, confirmed late Sunday that the governor will make an announcement at a ''low-key'' event Tuesday in Tallahassee.
LeMieux and Jim Greer, chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, have been dropping hints about Crist's decision for the past week.
''He loves being governor, but he also realizes that Florida's problems have become national problems,'' LeMieux said. Asked how the governor will serve out the 19 months left of his term if he is running for the Senate, LeMieux added: ``No matter what decision the governor makes, he will be, as he has been, focused on his job.''
Crist will immediately become the man to beat in the race to replace the retiring Republican Sen. Mel Martinez. Crist will face former House Speaker Marco Rubio of Miami in the Republican primary, but is likely to try to avoid a divisive battle. Rubio has positioned himself as the more conservative candidate.
''He is the happy warrior,'' LeMieux said of Crist.
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