Independent Florida Senate candidate Charlie Crist has seen a fundraising boom from an unlikely source: Democrats. According to a financial analysis by the Associated Press, the former Republican's campaign coffer has diversified its revenue stream dramatically since Crist chose to strike out on his own.
In the second quarter of 2010, Crist saw his percentage of donations from people who donated to President Obama's 2008 campaign shoot up to 10 percent. That's up from a paltry 2.5 percent of total donations when he was running for the GOP nod. Crist even received seven percent of his individual donations from people who previously gave to Jim Davis, the Democratic opponent in his 2006 race for governor.
Crist abandoned the GOP nomination battle after polls showed him trailing his opponent, former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, by a double-digit margin.
Polls now show Crist and Rubio locked in a statistical tie, with Democratic challengers U.S. House Rep. Kendrick Meek and billionaire real estate investor Jeff Greene trailing.
And in what may be one of this cycle's more bizarre instances of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend," Mark Penn, the pollster who served as the chief strategist in Hillary Clinton's failed 2008 run for president, is scheduled to hold a fundraiser for Crist Wednesday night. The Clintons have thrown their support behind Meek, and Former President Bill Clinton will appear with the congressman at a series of campaign rallies on Monday.
When asked about holding a fundraiser with mostly Democrats on CNN Wednesday afternoon, Crist said the event proved his independence. "It means we have broad support," Crist replied, "I think everybody has the notion and the idea that they would like an independent voice in the United States Senate... that's what this is all about." He said that taking money from Democrats and Republicans would have no bearing on his caucus choice if he were to become the junior senator from Florida.
His Republican opponent's camp took issue with that statement. "(Crist) will say and do anything to win votes and raise money," said Rubio spokesman Alex Burgos, "He's singing whatever tune he thinks it will take to win."