Published: Apr 29, 2010 10:21 PM EDT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - "Disappointment."   That seems to be the overwhelming response from Southwest Florida Republicans to the move by Gov. Charlie Crist to run for U.S. Senate as an independent.

"The man really wants to be a senator, that is obvious.  But this is not the right way to go about it," said Bob Shrader, who has volunteered for the GOP in 5 states over 5 decades.

"I wish he would just run as a Republican.   I also wish Crist would return the money he's raised from Republicans," said Shrader. He added, many local republicans grew uneasy with Crist, after he strongly endorsed the stimulus program, offered by Pres. Obama last year.   Crist also agitated some party members by openly embracing Pres. Obama on stage in Ft. Myers in Feb., 2009.

The Federal Elections Commission confirms to WINK News, Crist is not obligated or required to return any money, after leaving one party in the middle of a race.   He can return cash if so chooses.

Bob Chilmonik is a Crist donor and supporter who says:   keep the money and win the senate seat.   Chilmonik is asking the Governor to appoint him to fill a vacancy on the Lee Co. Commission.   Chilmonik also is running to win an election to fill the last 2 years of the term of the late Bob Janes.

"I support Charlie Crist and his beliefs.   Those are my beliefs.  I will stand behind him." said Chilmonik.    "I believe an independent might shake up the race and shake up Washington. They sure need it."

We checked Crist's campaign donors for the months, Jan. to March of 2010.   Not many SW Floridians donated.  We contacted several for comment, but did not hear back from them.

Our examination of the donations during the winter months show that Crist got a lot of  money from New York State, Palm Beach, and Fort Lauderdale. 

Crist will square off against the expected nominees, Marco Rubio of the Republican Party and Kendrick Meek for the Democratic Party. 


Crist announces run as independent candidate