[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/05/08/art.crist.gi.jpg caption="Crist is moving toward a bid for Senate."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is on the verge of announcing his bid for the U.S. Senate, which would provide a significant boost to Republican recruiting efforts for the 2010 elections if he decides to take the leap.
Several sources tell CNN that Crist is seriously leaning towards a run, and could declare his candidacy as early as next week – perhaps Monday. The timing would provide Crist with enough distance between the close of Florida’s legislative session and staking out his own day to declare his future political plans.
Crist has been talking up a Senate run with friends, a source close to the governor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, tells CNN. Another source, close to the Crist family, said that the governor’s wife has been telling friends her husband is going to run for the Senate. And a third Crist source tells CNN all indications are that he is in, but cautioned it was not 100 percent and noted there was still a chance for the governor to pull the plug on a Senate bid.
So far, Crist has been coy about his political plans, only saying publicly that he would make an announcement once the legislature gaveled out of session.
Crist is a very popular governor in the Sunshine State and his entrance into the Senate race would take huge financial pressure off of national Republicans to help fund a campaign to save this Republican seat currently held by retiring Sen. Mel Martinez. An April Quinnipiac Poll showed that registered Republicans would vote for Crist over potential primary rival Marco Rubio, 54 percent to 8 percent. But the poll also found that more people overall and Republicans specifically would rather see Crist run for re-election as governor than seek the Senate seat.
Rubio is a former state House speaker who announced his candidacy earlier this week and is seeking to align himself with the conservative wing of the state party.
"Some believe that the path to security and prosperity is a larger government involvement in our economy," Rubio said. "That what we need is a government that spends more money ... a majority of us don't agree with that view, and we deserve a voice in American politics."
Among the issues Rubio said he will emphasize are tax reform and a balanced budget amendment.
Crist, who supported President Obama's stimulus package, is considered to be a centrist Republican.
CNN's Kevin Bohn, Mark Preston, John King, and Jessica Yellin contributed to this story.