Player of the week: Gov. Charlie Crist

Charlie Crist will make the most important decision of his political career this week.

Down big in his Senate GOP primary against Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Dems attempt to tie government funding, Ida relief to debt limit Poll: Trump dominates 2024 Republican primary field Milley says calls to China were 'perfectly within the duties' of his job MORE, Crist last week acknowledged he is thinking about running for the upper chamber as an Independent.

Crist could drop out of the race entirely and try again in two years against Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonElon Musk mocks Biden for ignoring his company's historic space flight How will Biden's Afghanistan debacle impact NASA's Artemis return to the moon? Biden to talk Russia, anti-corruption with Ukraine's president MORE (D-Fla.). 

ADVERTISEMENT

But Crist’s stock among conservatives has already taken a huge hit by even contemplating the Independent bid.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney endorsed Rubio last week and ripped Crist, who famously hugged President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaDems punch back over GOP holdup of Biden SBA nominee Biden congratulates Trudeau for winning third term as Canadian prime minister Republicans have moral and financial reasons to oppose raising the debt ceiling MORE last year and supported his stimulus package. 

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainBiden steps onto global stage with high-stakes UN speech Biden falters in pledge to strengthen US alliances 20 years after 9/11, US foreign policy still struggles for balance MORE (R-Ariz.), who had Crist on his shortlist of running-mate candidates in 2008, told The Hill he will withdraw his endorsement of the Florida governor if he abandons the GOP. 

Crist will turn 54 this summer, which is young for a politician. 

But his future is murky at best. 

If he sits out this race to take on Nelson in two years, there’s no guarantee he will win the Republican primary. 

If he stays in the Republican primary, Rubio will likely win by double digits.

If he runs as an Independent, polls show he has a decent shot of defeating Rubio and Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.) in the general election. 

Sen. Joe Lieberman (Conn.) defied the odds in 2006 and won as an Independent after losing the Democratic primary. However, many of his longtime friends publicly criticized him, and the race took a personal toll on the Connecticut senator. 

Crist, like Lieberman, could get the last laugh.

Many voters are tired of partisanship, and Crist, as an Independent, could portray himself as the centrist above the frays on the left and right. Yet it is hard to see how he would raise the massive funds necessary to wage such a campaign. 

Crist has long wanted to hold public office in the nation’s capital. How he gets here is the tricky part.