Speculation continues about whether Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) will run as an independent. Hawaii is shaping into a competitive three-way race -- House candidate Colleen Hanabusa (D) announced Thursday she raised almost $500,000 last quarter. And Ohio voters are switching parties.
NY-23 all over again
Florida observers are speculating that Crist's veto this week of a bill that would have loosened state campaign finance laws indicates he plans to run as an independent.
Republican legislators wanted to again allow the use of so-called leadership funds, which Florida banned in 1989. Crist said there was no reason to lift that ban.
"While I commend the sponsors of this bill for their effort to bring more transparency and accountability in their attempt to revive leadership funds, I reject the notion that affiliated party committees, or leadership funds, will benefit our state," Crist wrote in his veto.
The move prompted swift condemnaton -- from Republicans. "The governor is 100 percent wrong," Senate Majority Leader Alex Diaz de la Portilla (R) told reporters.
With polls showing Marco Rubio with a significant lead and the former Florida House Speaker hauling in an impressive $3.6 million last quarter, Crist may be setting himself up to run as an independent. Or so the thinking goes.
Under Florida law, Crist must declare whether he's running for the Republican nod or as an independent by the end of April.
The state Senate president brought in an impressive $450,000 last quarter, her campaign said Thursday. It's even more impressive with reports suggesting that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is quietly supporting former Rep. Ed Case (D).
Back to Ohio
Ohio Democrats are switching to register as Republicans, according to a Columbus Dispatch report.
In Cuyahoga County, the paper reported that the "number of Democrats switching to the GOP outnumbered Republicans becoming Democrats by nearly 7 to 1 as of Tuesday." During the 2008 primary, nearly five times as many Republicans switched to become Democrats in Cuyahoga, the state's largest county. Statewide totals weren't available and Democrats still have a large registration advantage. But it's a troubling sign in year when the environment is expected to favor the GOP.
Aaron Blake is making the trek to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans Thursday. There are some notable absences from this year's event – Mitt Romney being one of them. But the conference, which is dubbed the "most prominent GOP gathering" after the party's convention, will still feature Sarah Palin, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) among others. Embattled RNC Chairman Michael Steele -- whom Palin defended Wednesday -- will also be there.
Check back for updates from Aaron throughout the next three days.
Update: Pawlenty pulled out of the SRLC and will not be speaking at the event. He is, however, still listed on the website.