If elected Governor again, would Charlie Crist actually govern from the left?

The continued obsession with Charlie Crist has continued among Democrats in recent months growing to a fever pitch. Speculation about Crist’s plans and his presence in the Democratic Party fuels passion on all sides of the debate. But Crist himself will have to make a critical decision. For a man who has seemed to depend on likability and amicable relationships throughout his career with a Republican led Legislature he may very well just go along to get along. With many Democrats  desperate for any kind of success on the state level  ready to accept Crist with open arms they may not ask the questions that need to be asked of him. But progressives who form the backbone of the Obama coalition in this state must be given sufficient cover by the former Governor himself.  Crist’s positions on gun issues and his consistent partisan attacks in the 1990s on Governor Lawton Chiles will need to be addressed if he is to become a Democratic standard bearer.

To doubt Charlie Crist was once a partisan Republican is foolhardy, and would involve a significant re-writing of history. In 1995, as State Senator he held up Governor Lawton Chiles most critical administrative appointments until the final day of session for strictly political reasons. The same year he initiated a Senate investigation of campaign calls made by the Chiles campaign, at great expense to the taxpayers. In the long history of political campaigns, dirty tricks have been conducted over and over again, and Chiles’ calls were not out of the ordinary. In the very same election GOP nominee Jeb Bush accused Governor Chiles of being soft on crime while shamelessly exploiting the family of a murder victim in a TV ad. But it was Chiles that was accused of dirty tricks by Crist in a politically motivated investigation which cost the taxpayers millions of dollars.

In 1996, he helped lead the Republican opposition to Governor Chiles landmark lawsuit against the Tobacco Industry and then a year later, Crist conducted another partisan witch hunt, this time against the attorneys who bravely represented the state in the Tobacco Lawsuit. In a twist of irony, some of those same lawyers have become political allies of the more moderate new version of Crist.

By 1997, Crist was firmly viewed within the halls of the Legislature as a show horse and a partisan.If Crist filed legislation, any legislation it seemed he called a press conference. After being crushed in the 1998 US Senate race by Democrat Bob Graham, Crist was the 2000 Republican nominee for Commissioner of Education. I was heavily involved in that campaign for George Sheldon and during the course of fall election, Crist echoed every right-wing talking point about education, school “choice” and standardized testing (ie. the FCAT) imaginable. He was the perfect partisan candidate for the GOP who was making education “reform” a priority.

Crist’s tenure as Attorney General was a mixed bag. When compared to the rest of the cabinet he looked sane and moderate. But when compared to other Attorney General’s around the nation he looked slow, reactive and excessively political. Republicans have joked about President Obama’s multilateral approach as “leading from behind” but that is literally what Crist did as A.G. Still Crist’s record in that office was not to the satisfaction of many partisan Republicans who craved a conservative activist in that office.

Crist began a transformation from partisan Republican to political pragmatist who felt the pulse of Florida’s electorate while Attorney General. Crist’s advocacy on the environment and insurance reform have been in particular noteworthy for progressives, but his record on reproductive rights, education, and gun control are all very worrying for progressives.

Ultimately Crist will have to be trusted on these issues to be the Democratic nominee for Governor. While many Floridians perceive that gun control is unpopular, electoral politics history contradict that perception. If Crist were to be nominated as a Democrat his long established record on guns and education could create a real problem, costing the Democrats turnout in a midterm election. As we know, midterm elections favor Republicans and that partly explains that the GOP has won 85% of statewide elections in Florida run during the off years this millennium.

Democrats continue to assume Crist will crush Rick Scott in November 2014 if nominated. I am unconvinced by this logic, because as you peel away the emotion and hype and look at cold hard facts, a Democrat who galvanizes the base of progressive voters who do not typically vote in a mid-term election stands a better chance.

Of greater concern to progressives may be whether Crist will actually govern effectively if elected. Given his recent propensity for disloyalty, it is a question certainly worth pondering.

22 comments

  1. The real question is whether he has any plan to improve the economy other then the potential of winning the election!

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  2. Vincent · · Reply

    For the record, Crist did come out in support of the gun control bill back when it was being debated in the Senate, so he’s got that covered.

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    1. So he was for it before he was against it? 🙂

      I just gave you Rick Scott’s campaign against Crist in one sentence….and nobody ever survives it.

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    2. Please tell me what his exact statement was.

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      1. Yeah like Susan Smith I’d like to see this “statement,” of Crist’s. I don’t believe it exists.

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      2. Vincent · ·

        “We need to have some restrictions, that’s pretty obvious to most people,” Crist told the Tampa Bay Times prior to testifying before a Senate panel on voting laws. “What do you need a 30-clip magazine for? Not to go hunting deer. I can tell you that because I hunt deer.”

        Source: http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/national/former-gov-charlie-crist-shifts-on-guns-supports-new-restrictions/1266801

        Support whomever you’d like, but keep the facts straight.

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    3. Yellow Dog Democrat · · Reply

      To the Progressive “Three Stooges” Dave Trotter, Susan Smith and now Kartik who have decided to gang up on Vincent here, and have continued their daily barrage against former Governor and now Democrat Charlie Crist, I repeat my comment below, what are you three liberal whiners going to do when your choice next November 2014 is Democratic Nominee Charlie Crist vs Republican Governor Rick Scott.

      I say Governor Crist, welcome to the Party!

      You’ve made the right choice along with other fellow former Republicans: Democratic Leader Darryl Rouson, Pinellas County Commission Chairman Ken Welch and newly elected Democratic State Representative Carl Zimmerman and many others.

      I know you all have been and will continue to be pragmatic centrist Democrats but The “Three Stooges” here will try desperately to get you all to swing as far to the left as possible to position yourselves to not even get elected as dog catchers because they are happy sitting in the back of both chambers in the minority of the Legislature and having no seats on the Florida Cabinet.

      See the three “complainers” have no clue how to get elected in Florida to actually become leaders and effect any change in the lives of everyday Floridians.

      They just like to wallow in their own self righteous indignation that the world revolves around them and they don’t understand the word “compromise”. Democrats need to sell a sensible message today that appeals to everyone…especially the “Independents” that decide elections that are now trending Republican in Florida. These three are trying to sell “ice to eskimos” and whatever they are selling, the voters aren’t buying (see: Nan Rich)

      When we win that battle we will be back in Tallahassee running things and being Progressive will no longer be a dirty word.

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    4. Yellow Dog Democrat · · Reply

      P.S. If you think that the Republicans and Rick Scott are going to go “easy” on your liberal standard bearer Sen Nan Rich as opposed to Gov Charlie Crist, I have some swamp land down in the Everglades I’d like to sell you…cheap! (Wake Up..News Flash: they are going to rip Nan or ANY Democrat to shreds who runs for Governor!! She is NO different than Charlie)!!

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  3. Morning Star · · Reply

    Who cares? More garbage from you. Do you want to win or lose? If you insist on ideological purity we have no chance. We must run moderates to win outside south Florida.

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    1. I guess the Democrats should run George W. Bush because he won the state twice, right?

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  4. Let’s not overlook Nan Rich! She is steadily gaining momentum and at this point, she “owns” the Progressive base as well as the Obama coalition.

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    1. Ok, maybe that’s 10% of the electorate in 2014……getting to 50% +1 will take a lot more work, enthusiasm, organization and plenty of money. As of now, I just don’t see much of any of that in her campaign.

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  5. Republicans for a Crist nomination · · Reply

    Go ahead and nominate Crist. That will ensure Scott wins when all the dirt resurfaces on our most corrupt Governor since Fuller Warren.

    Rick Scott hasn’t been a great Gov. He is really not conservative. Any concerns about turnout and the motivation for our activists goes away if you guys nominate Crist.

    Nobody can motivate the Republican base more to work hard and turn out that Charlie Crist.

    Florida Democrats are stupid. We’ve seen that time and again during these campaigns. A party that has no idea about the demographics of the state unless national people from the Obama campaign come in and show them how to do it.

    People that run Democratic campaigns in Florida are bad. That’s why the Democrats never win the election. But even for the Democrats nominating Charlie Crist would be remarkable. It is like shooting yourself in the head before the campaign starts.

    Some Democrats are stupid enough to think we would avoid use of the Crist scandals in the campaign because they involved other Republicans.

    But rest assured Rick Scott has his own money is own resources – this is his own campaign. Regardless of what some Republicans in the legislature may want the scandals will be brought up it will be used. They will be the biggest issues in the campaign besides economy and the fact that Charlie Crist cost for the state the jobs while Governor Scott has created millions of jobs.

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  6. Tell him and Wexler to give back the money to our troops that they took from Sargeant. Or we can ask Eric Johnson.

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  7. reality is that Crist is all things to all people. He will say and do what he needs to win.

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    1. Of course he will and does……he’s a cleaver and crafty politician!!

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  8. NELSON NELSON NELSON NELSON…..

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  9. Yellow Dog Democrat · · Reply

    I agree with Vincent and Morning Star on their points.

    First the facts: you “Progressives” need to get you heads out of your asses because you think the world revolves around you and it doesn’t. You might be part of the “backbone” of the party but you do not make up the whole body or party and you guys are the reason that you have dragged us so far to the left that we have lost the state so soundly for decades.

    Second, Obama, who I supported both times for President and who won the state twice, did not win by running around Florida singing, “Vote for me: the most FLAMING PROGRESSIVE LIBERAL you can find!!” Obama won by being a pragmatic centrist (and he had terrible opponents who could not match his ground organization and money).

    Third, “GOVERNOR” Charlie Christ is our best hope in the $$$$ which pays for the victory on the air and on the ground.

    Fourth, You forget that Gov Crist traveled all over Florida with President Obama and he has a direct link to the White House and the money, power, support and OFA that comes with that.

    Fifth, as much as you “Progressives” think your important in the National and State Party world, your not! Perfect Example, you Progressives (were duped) dumped all over Alan Clendenin for Party Chair, the first openly gay leader in the history of the State Democratic Party of Florida, for Allison Tant and she turned right around and dumped on your liberal standard bearer (and only announced candidate) for Governor, Nan Rich, by not giving her 5 minutes to speak at the State JJ Dinner in Hollywood (where I still had to sit though a dozen other boring speeches).

    Sixth, speaking of Nan Rich, she doesn’t have a prayer for several reasons: no money, too liberal, no state power base. I’ve seen the comments here comparing her to Rubin Askew and Bob Graham (who by the way is a strong supporter of Gov Crist even though they both ran against each other)…those guys HAD a deep behind the scenes power base, millions of dollars to tap and a strong, wealthy, organized State Democratic Party that controlled everything in Tallahassee, the Governor’s mansion and both houses of the Legislature. The FDP today is a shell game of itself: Allison Tant proved to you progressive idiots last quarter that she can’t raise any money (out raised by the R’s 3 to 1) and together with Scott Arceneau are running the Party into the ground. They have no staff older than 15 (and they are not from Florida ether) whereas the Republicans are bringing in big talent to save Scott cause they have all the money they need.

    Seventh, (see fourth) IF Obama and whatever is left of the “established” Democratic Party want Charlie Crist…that’s what’s going to happen…wake up Progressives and smell the roses…Charlie Crist came out recently for Gay Marriage before the highest ranking Democrat in the State, Bill Nelson, did.

    Finally, All the crap I hear from the Republicans, and some Democrats too echoing them, about how Scott is going to destroy Crist, well don’t think for one second that they will not destroy Nan Rich or ANY Democratic nominee who wins the primary…

    the Republicans will destroy ANY Democrat for Governotr PERIOD!!!

    No Democrat will be immune!!!

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  10. Sorry Charlie your not a real Democrat.

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  11. Yelllow Dog Democrat · · Reply

    Dear Susan Smith and Dave Trotter,

    You two progressives can bitch and moan all you want about Charlie Crist but when your choice next November 2014 is between Democrat Nominee Charlie Crist and Republican Rick Scott, what are you two liberal whiners going to do?

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  12. JOE KREPS · · Reply

    Dear Yellow Dog Democrat, You ignorant canine. You hide behind a fake name because I know for a fact you are a flaming republican. Just because you say you voted for Obama twice does not make you and Charlie Democrats. A Democrat is someone who truly cares about all people.Someone who wants to make a great country better. Someone like Nan Rich who has more Democratic values in her pinky than you and Crist put together. Scott has no chance against Nan. She will destroy him in a debate. All the money in the world could not help Scott. I will not waste any time responding to you because you are a troll.Nan Rich is a Winner and a true leader. You are a bottom feeder.

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