Crist getting shoved out?

CRIST GETTING SHOVED OUT?…. Last year, when Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) announced he would forgo re-election and run for the Senate, the Republicans were delighted. They’d urged him to run, felt confident that his victory was a near-certainty, and it wasn’t long before the National Republican Senatorial Committee was backing him. On May 12, Crist kicked off his campaign, and that afternoon, the NRSC officially endorsed his bid.

That was 11 months ago. Today, the NRSC offered a very different message.

The top political strategist for Senate Republicans urged key GOP consultants Monday to persuade Florida Gov. Charlie Crist to forgo an independent bid for Senate if he withdraws from the Republican primary, CNN has learned.

Rob Jesmer, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, sent an e-mail to national political operatives just before noon in which he also predicted that Crist will decide not to compete in the GOP primary against former state House Speaker Marco Rubio.

“We believe there is zero chance Governor Crist continues running in the Republican primary,” Jesmer wrote in the e-mail provided to CNN by a Republican source on the condition of anonymity. “It [sic] our view that if Governor Crist believes he cannot win a primary then the proper course of action is he drop out of the race and wait for another day.”

The NRSC message comes the same day that Crist’s Senate campaign canceled scheduled television advertisements in central Florida.

Crist’s next move is anybody’s guess. He hinted late last week that he’d consider an independent Senate bid, but there’s been no word on when (or whether) such an announcement might be made.

I’m especially interested to see how Crist responds to the NRSC’s Jesmer email — I wouldn’t be too surprised if the message pushes Crist closer to a third-party run, since he’ll no doubt be annoyed by the disrespect.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.