(CNN) - National Democrats are hitting the airwaves to target Florida Gov. Charlie Crist in a new ad launching Thursday, the first salvo in what is likely to be a sharply contested Senate race in 2010.
In the new ad called "Mess," the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee blames Crist for Florida's flailing economy and foreclosure crisis, and says, "Instead of working to fix it, Charlie Crist wants to quit to go to Washington."
Crist, whose approval ratings hover above 60 percent according to several recent polls, is said to be strongly considering a bid to succeed Sen. Mel Martinez - the one term Republican who announced late last year he would not seek reelection.
"Crist enjoys being governor when he attends basketball games and super bowl activities and when he takes over sixty days off with no schedule," the ad's narrator says. "But now, the job's getting tough and Crist wants out- leaving Floridians with the mess."
The ad, in what is described as a "significant" buy, will begin airing in the Tallahassee market and could expand to other parts of the state.
The popular Crist has emerged as the Florida Republican Party's top choice to run for the seat after former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush ruled out the possibility of running earlier this year.
On the Democratic side, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, the early frontrunner, also has said she will not run for the seat. U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek and state Rep. Dan Gelber have both said they are running.
Responding to the ad, National Republican Senatorial Committee Press Secretary Amber Wilkerson said, “The DSCC obviously knows they’re in trouble in Florida because this reeks of desperation."
“Too bad they haven’t learned that voters in the Sunshine State are looking for real solutions, accountability, and checks and balances in Washington – not another round of pithy negative attacks," she added.