We’ve discussed at length on this site Charlie Crist’s bad record on guns. However what we have neglected to mention though it is somewhat well known is that Nan Rich joined a unanimous vote in the Senate in favor of Stand Your Ground when it passed in 2005. Rich’s vote at the time went along with several others where the Democrats in the Senate, often taking their cues from more conservative members like Rod Smith voted against the liberal wing of the party in the House. On the Stand Your Ground vote in 2005, both Chris Smith and Dan Gelber spoke out passionately against the legislation and Rep. Irv Slobserg even likened it to potentially turning Florida into the “wild west” before casting a no vote.
Both Crist and Rich have since reversed on the law. In 2010 Crist was already hedging long before the law became a national issue.
“I have great respect for the State Attorney (Willie Meggs) and I think that we need to review that. He brings up some very good points,”
– Charlie Crist in May 2010 (21 months before the death of Trayvon Martin) on “Stand Your Ground”
Nan Rich has been a strong opponent of most of the NRA’s agenda but she did support Stand Your Ground in 2005. Rich shifted her position and has been an outspoken critic of the law since beginning to run for Governor. But Rich’s vote for Stand Your Ground along with every other Democratic Senator is what allowed the law to go through relatively uncontested. Rich has been right since she began this race and has embraced the Dream Defenders and other efforts to reverse or amend the law. However, by not showing strong leadership as a leading liberal voice in 2005, she gave cover to others that may have been concerned about the law.
While Crist’s shifts on issues on Rich has generally been consistent. But this issue is one very notable exception. While Rich has argued that the law has not been implemented as first conceived the law was questionable enough to prompt several House Democrats to vote no in 2005. It is worth noting Crist’s record on gun control has long been appalling
More importantly we consistently hear from the political class that these are losing issues for Democrats. But polls and history indicate otherwise. Democrats must EMBRACE this issue. Rich has despite her past questionable vote on Stand Your Ground. Crist with a history of outstanding Civil Rights stands could very well pivot on that ground towards a more responsible and reasonable position on gun issues as well.