- The Washington Times - Friday, April 30, 2010

If a picture is worth a thousands words, is a portrait of newly independent Senate candidate Florida Gov. Charlie Crist worth $7,500 on eBay?

The Florida Republican Party wants to find out.

Florida state Sen. John Thrasher, chairman of the Florida GOP, has removed a portrait of Mr. Crist from the party’s Tallahassee headquarters and plans to put it up for sale on the online auction site.

The portrait, along with a painting of former party Chairman Jim Greer, who recently was forced from office amid reports he misused party money, had cost the party $7,500.

“We just want to recoup the cost,” said Florida Republican Party spokeswoman Katie Betta. “This is just an example of the extravagant spending under the leadership of Mr. Greer and Gov. Crist.” She described the works as oil paintings on linen canvas.

Mr. Greer has claimed his likeness. But party officials say they hope to begin bidding for the governor’s portrait on eBay as soon as today.

The Florida party already as received several calls from prospective bidders, Mrs. Betta said. She said she was unaware of why the callers were interested in the portrait.

“Obviously we can’t control what people would do with it,” she said. “But it’s certainly no use to us anymore.”

Mr. Crist, once a darling in the Republican Party in Florida and considered a rising star nationally, on Thursday withdrew from the Republican primary for U.S. Senate to run as an independent.

Mr. Crist’s main Republican challenger, former Florida House speaker Marco Rubio, in recent months has cruised to double-digit poll leads over the governor for the Aug. 24 GOP primary.

Recent polls suggest Mr. Rubio still would defeat Mr. Crist and Democratic Rep. Kendrick B. Meek in a three-way race, though the margin is much tighter.

• Sean Lengell can be reached at slengell@washingtontimes.com.

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