Is Charlie Crist’s shotgun marriage with liberal leaders threatened by Jeb Bush comments?

Charlie_Crist_croppedCharlie Crist has been living a charmed life. Despite a record that is contrary to the interests of many liberals on school “choice”, teacher tenure, growth management, and reproductive rights an acceptance of the former Governor as the presumptive Democratic nominee to reclaim his old office has developed among many.

This has happened partly thanks to the continued desperation of Democrats across the state. We’ve seen prominent leaders in the teachers union, women’s groups, the trial lawyers, environmentalists and elected officials move en masse to Crist despite a questionable record from his GOP days.  Younger Democrats who support Crist openly may have no recollection of the battles of the late 1990s and early 2000s when thirty years of progressive governance of this state was undone brutally and in short order by a partisan State House and an ideologically motivated governor in Jeb Bush. To an extent the Republicans running the State Senate prevented even a further swinging of the pendulum to the right, but the damage was still done in a big way.

Acceptance of Crist’s Democratic credentials seemed to have grown from his announcement in November which threw down the gauntlet on economic issues and cronyism to Florida Republicans until the release of his book and related media tour a few weeks ago.

However, Crist’s controversial and quite frankly ridiculous comments about Jeb Bush’s tenure as  Governor should threaten much of this support. No question exists that Rick Scott has been a poor Governor when it comes to creating higher wage, professional jobs in Florida, pushing a radical agenda on any number of issues including women’s reproductive rights and the environment. But Scott for many Democrats myself included is not the ideological warrior that Jeb Bush was. The current Governor is a bit of a buffoon and has pursued policies which hurt average Floridians and the future prospects for our state. However, I don’t think he has quite the vision that Jeb Bush to remake a largely progressive and forward looking state into a  laboratory for conservative think tanks and right-wing out-of-state interests.

Many of those who are Crist’s strongest backers were also the people that fought Bush the hardest for all eight years of his Governorship. The failure of Crist to very publicly clarify or apologize for his comments on Bush could create a problem down the road. Do those backing Crist continue to have universal credibility among progressives if they stick with Crist without a Bush related apology? Or do some of these people peel off and support Crist’s primary opposition, Senator Nan Rich? Or does it simply not matter? But how could it not matter, if the Democrats are in any way a values based party?

Anyway you cut it, Crist has made what was appearing to be clean party switch and repositioning of his ideology a mess with one foolish comment that harkened back to 2006 when he was trying to get around Tom Gallagher on the right during the GOP Gubernatorial Primary.  At the time the strong feeling in Florida political circles was that Bush preferred Gallagher to succeed him, but since he stayed publicly neutral, Crist made every attempt to suck up to him publicly. Rank-in-file Republican voters had no idea that Bush prefered Gallagher.

This quite frankly smells the same and now that Crist runs as a Democrat, it is bound to create problems down the road unless he addresses it. Perhaps Crist is already employing a General Election strategy, but in an off-year election where turnout matters among base voters this sort of gaffe, especially if it is repeated could be catostophic.

10 comments

  1. The only buffoon is Crist himself.

    Rick Scott will be reelected. Once the ad start flowing and the corruption &cronyism become obviously a problem for him it is over.

    His comments about Bush are smart. Jeb is the most popular person in this state and he’s trying to attach himself to that but it won’t save him.

    Bush will back Scott and that will help decide the election.

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    1. Broward Bob · · Reply

      Bill Nelson is more popular than Bush. Stop watching Faux news, please.

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  2. Floridian · · Reply

    I have a lot of respect for all of the things you’ve done through the years to promote liberal causes and the Democratic Party, Kartik. Your institutional memory is flawless. Your intellect is as sharp as ever.

    However you are just too obsessed with Jeb Bush to give rational analysis when he is involved. I have noticed that time and time again going back to your years as a political consultant when you thought any Democratic primary could be won by talking gibberish and claiming the legislator you opposed was tied to Jeb Bush. You acted in some of those campaigns like Bush was hitler!

    You have continued this obsession with each of these blogs over the course of the last two years when you bring his name up.

    As I said earlier I have a lot of respect for almost all your opinions but you’re just too far out there on this. You need to really let go at some point of this Jeb Bush thing. This site and the things you do and say publicly almost all on the money. But soon your credibility will begin to suffer thanks to your continued obsession with Gov. Bush.

    Just my two cents. Keep up the good work on the site other then these stupid posts on Bush.

    Floridian

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    1. Patti Lynn · · Reply

      I am not aware of Kartik’s history, but, if you say that he is obsessed with John Ellis Bush, so be it. THIS particular article should give Democrats a nudge to pay attention. By aligning himself with Bush, and stating that he was a good governor, Chain Gang Charlie reveals his lack of gravitas when it comes to Florida’s political history. Democrats should be very wary of the possible programs and platforms that Crist might want to pursue.
      Me, I’m obsessed with NAN RICH for governor. Her positions are clear, well stated, and founded in historical actions. If so many of those people who are claiming that they’re supporting Crist because he can win and they’ve got skin in the game…HEY!! If you’re a Democrat, and you support DEMOCRATIC principles…then cast your vote for the candidate who supports those principles…NAN RICH for Governor. If ALL of you Democrats…who claim to know so much…and care so much..did so, we WOULD have a true Democrat in the Governor’s mansion…NAN RICH!!!

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  3. Christ is almost as big a liar, thief, and fraud as Rick Scott.

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  4. Bush, Crist, Scott, Crist reads like a horror movie.

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    1. Broward Bob · · Reply

      any of them would destroy nan, kind of like those women are destroying you in the florida facebook group. keep huffing and puffing though. it’s funny.

      Like

  5. David Lutrin · · Reply

    I can see why you won’t let up on good time Charlie for praising John Elliot Bush; Bush was horrible for Florida and his policies and idiology continue to hurt Floridians. Most Dems are giving Crist a pass on everything – his record, his words, and his actions. He needs to be accountable if he wants a (D) after his name. Crist is better than Scott, but so is a punch in the face compared to a kick in the groin. Support Nan.

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  6. Really good article. You nailed it. So many are now exposed badly for supporting Crist.

    This is how he will act as governor. Is it worth sacrificing our principles and morals for? If Rick Scott beats Nan we will live to fight another day. If Crist wins though, we may never get our party back.

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  7. […] A common theme of the last two weeks highlighted in this “Sorry Charlie” video. […]

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