So Charlie Crist waits hours, not even days after being sworn in as a member of Congress on Tuesday, to show up for his first fundraising effort -- and the Tampa Bay Times tells us Charlie will make his way back to Florida for a couple of fundraising soirees, Jan. 16 and 17 in his honor in Sarasota and Miami Beach.
The Times says this is all for a 2018 re-election bid. Is it?
Is it really for re-election?
According to one "deep throat" contact I heard from over the weekend, Charlie is reaching out to "monied associates" and "advisors with access" as he considers running for Florida governor in 2018.
Yes, Florida governor. Again.
Charlie apparently was spooked by stories of how much Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has raised for a Republican gubernatorial bid so far.
He doesn't believe Florida Dems have a viable field to choose from to challenge Putnam, and if Putnam wins, he will be in for eight years ... and by then, Charlie is too old to run.
"In Charlie/Carole's head, he is the best the Fl Dems have and this is his last opportunity to run for the office he very much regrets walking away from," my source wrote in an email.
"Charlie is so blatant in his pandering for money that he has been offering inauguration tickets to these same donors who supported Trump ... the man has no convictions; he'll work both sides of the aisle just to get money to run for the next office," my source continued.
"As a matter of fact, one of these donors who spent time with Putnam and promised him significant support, Charlie's been calling that donor relentlessly to get him to change his mind. This man is a life-long Republican supporter..."
What about Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and high-profile attorney John Morgan? Claims my "deep throat" friend, "Buckhorn was told FL Dems will clear the field for him to run for CFO, and no assistance from them if he chooses to stick with running for governor." Morgan, the source says, is not running -- "too many skeletons in his closet and it would hurt his firm."
Never did this source mention Crist running again for U.S. Senate -- presumably because Sen. Bill Nelson, who is already gobbling up cash, isn't retiring, and Nelson's Republican challenger, Gov. Rick Scott, could wind up the best-financed Senate candidate in the nation in 2018.
You might also note, as the Times did, that Charlie Crist may be a freshman congressman, but in the fundraiser invitations, he prefers using the title "Governor." See the invites reproduced on this page -- Crist at Peg and Marty Rauch's in Sarasota on Jan. 16; at Stephen Bittel's in Miami Beach on Jan. 17.
Take any of this for what it's worth. My source could be wrong, but has an above-average track record on scoops like this. Let's see what happens.
Reach Nancy Smith at email@example.com or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith