Judging by the reaction that Florida U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio received at CPAC today, perhaps it would be prudent for one of his opponents, Governor Charlie Crist, to announce he is switching parties or better yet  announce he’s going to run as an independent rather continue a campaign for a party nomination he probably will not win.

Wasn’t it just a year ago at this time that Crist was touted on as one of a group of so-called “moderates” who could help the party compete in states that weren’t blood red in color? Yet ever since Rubio announced his intention to run for the open Senate (open until Crist put one of his flunkies in it as a seat-warmer), he’s gone down, down, down in the polls while Rubio has risen dramatically despite the fact Crist is a sitting incumbent and has the national and state party apparatuses at his side (at least until his state’s GOP chairman, Jim Greer, was ousted by party activists recently) and has plenty more money to spend than Rubio does. But Crist’s unpopularity with rank and file GOP voters in Florida along with the bad economy (the two work and hand in hand) have reduced his favorability numbers in the polls  and thus his chances at winning the party nod for the seat.

I suppose Crist could take a page of fellow GOP “moderate” Scott Brown’s playbook and drive the state in a rusty 1976 Chevy pick-up, wear a plaid shirt and bib overalls and proclaim himself “man of the people” running against the “system”.  The problem is Crist as a sitting governor is known quantity. Brown as obscure state senator was not. Brown could remake himself and separate himself from his legislative record because the Tea Party activists who supported him had no idea who he was other than what they saw on TV or in person, and because his Democrat opponent was too incompetent to make it an issue. Brown did not run to be inheritor of the legacy of Massachusetts GOP liberals Leverette Saltonstall or Ed Brooke or Frank Sargent or Bill Weld (even though he may very well vote that way). This is what the moderates, or better yet the members of the institutional GOP, are left with, pretending they are not what you know them to be. For Crist, or Kay Bailey Hutchinson, or Mark Kirk, or Susan Collins or Olympia Snowe or Mitt Romney (insert GOP centrist here) to try to remake themselves in order to be more pleasing to the “base” is beyond pathetic.  Give Arlen Specter and Mike Bloomberg credit for not stooping to that level.

If Crist did the same, perhaps he might turn his campaign around and perhaps he would leave the GOP primary contest for the Florida Senate seat to be real one between  the forces of Conservative INC. (backing Rubio) and the real conservatives, constitutionalists and libertarian persons supporting the campaign of former New Hampshire U.S. Senator Robert Smith (who moved to Florida after leaving the Senate in 2003). Perhaps real issues can be discussed like immigration reform, cutting the budget, reforming the Federal Reserve and changing U.S. foreign policy and challenging Conservative INC/, to come up with actual ideas instead of always saying “no”. Perhaps they can come up with rationals for defending Obama’s war. It would be nice to have such a debate within a U.S. Senate campaign instead of an intra-establishment battle between Crist and Rubio.

Gov. Crist can do himself and a lot of people a big favor by getting out of the GOP primary and letting a real contest take place.