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“In places like Florida and Texas, our chances are being improved by the corrosiveness on the other side,” he said.

If Mr. Crist does run as an independent, he likely will lose much of his campaign staff, who would hurt their prospects for employment with Republicans if they aided the governor’s insurgent bid.

For now, the governor holds a fundraising edge with more money raised - $10.2 million - and more cash on hand than either opponent.

But the governor could lose a chunk of the $7.5 million cash he has on hand if he has to refund some to donors.

There’s no obligation to give money back, but the conservative Club for Growth said it will lead a charge to get average donors to ask for their money back, just as they did to Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania when he switched from Republican to Democrat last year.

Spokesman Michael Connolly said the club, with approval from the Federal Election Commission, sent letters to a group of Mr. Specter’s donors asking them to request their money back.

Mr. Connolly said that effort accounted for between $800,000 and $1.1 million Mr. Specter had to refund. Mr. Connolly also said that while Mr. Specter, as a new Democrat, could go to labor unions, trial lawyers or other big Democratic donors to replenish his treasury, Mr. Crist will have a tougher time since he’s running outside of a party.

Still, the immediate threat to Mr. Crist’s funds comes from Republican lawmakers, whose political action committees had given nearly $90,000.

Some of those waved off questions Thursday about what they’ll do.

“He hasn’t switched,” said Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, who is locked in a primary battle with former Rep. J.D. Hayworth.

c David Eldridge contributed to this report.