By Kay B. Day
Gov. Charlie Crist (I) will have to get in touch with his inner leftwinger when he participates in events that include Democrat candidates for US Senate Maurice Ferre and Rep. Kendrick Meek.
Crist keynotes an event in Kissimmee on Friday that includes Ferre—the Summit on Puerto Rican Affairs. Then on Saturday Crist will speak at the AFL-CIO endorsing convention in Jacksonville where Meek and numerous other Dems will court the union political machine. By necessity the governor must summon his inner Democrat because he will need those donkey votes to stay in the running.
But his candidacy raises a number of questions, among them his continuing as governor.
The charismatic governor who took GOP donors’ money and declared his independent candidacy isn’t stopping with the AFL-CIO. On his campaign website there’s a link above the fold to ‘Teachers for Charlie.’ Crist recently gave those teachers some political love by vetoing a bill teachers’ unions were against.
Ferre doesn’t get the press that Crist or GOP candidate Marco Rubio, former speaker of the Florida House, gets. But Ferre has plenty of experience—six term mayor of Miami. Serving that many terms as mayor of the South’s glitziest resort would quite naturally allow a person to cultivate some sophisticated political skills.
Meek seems fairly laid back about all this—he’s a dedicated Democrat and bona fide member of the political elite class and is perceived by those who aren’t leftwingers as a frontline cheerleader for the Pelosi-Reid agenda of big spending, big taxes and the biggest centralized government in the nation’s history.
Meanwhile on Monday Rasmussen had sobering data on the Florida Senate race guaranteed to please only Rubio: “A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely voters in Florida finds Republican Marco Rubio with 39% support, while Crist earns 31% of the vote and Democrat Kendrick Meek trails at 18%. Twelve percent (12%) are undecided.”
I count myself among the Rubio supporters and have disclosed that fact repeatedly in my columns just so my readers know where my politics abide. Would that national media scribes disclosed their political affiliations, but we all know that won’t happen until Democrats stop wallowing in taxes. The day that happens we’ll be able to pluck gold nuggets off citrus trees down here in The Sunshine State.
In a recent column I characterized Crist as Democrat-lite. That appears to be a spot-on analysis as we head towards November. Whether Crist can flesh out his inner Democrat to a more fully rounded product remains to be seen. He’s competing with Meek and Ferre, both experts in party ideology and both of whom have a proven track record when it comes to votes. Crist may still have time to catch up in that regard because he’s still our governor.
Frankly I see Crist’s continuing as governor raising serious issues of conflict of interest. It’s a no-brainer that he will vote not with those who elected him in mind but with those who might vote him into the Senate in mind. The teachers’ bill—a bill I believe had serious problems to begin with—is a perfect example. Crist’s votes will be cast in a political vein by necessity. His position as governor certainly gives him an edge over Democrat candidates.
Whatever happens it’s obvious Crist is going to have to summon and articulate his liberal qualities and hope to secure votes from a jigsaw puzzle of constituencies. Who’d have thought that a governor elected as a Republican would share the stage with Democrats in an effort to garner Democrat votes?
Who’d have thought GOP national leadership would have been so naïve as to prematurely anoint Crist as a Senate candidate anyway when there was a solid conservative Republican like Rubio who also had a record of public service? What does that say about our party’s national leadership?
A former Republican calling forth his inner Democrat—Crist might want to bear a certain Pennsylvania senator’s experience in mind. For now Rubio can enjoy watching two solid Dems and a Dem-lite duke it out for votes.
The Florida competition for this US Senate seat is one of the quirkiest races I’ve seen in my lifetime—a come-from-behind Republican who overcame the national Party elite, a Republican turned independent governor who has the bully pulpit and power to push an agenda, one that may not reflect what he was elected on, in hopes of securing new voters, and two solid Democrats who have their own coalitions ready to pounce. Reads like a novel.