JACKSONVILLE (FBW) – Former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist will run for the state’s highest office again – this time as a Democrat. Crist announced his candidacy on the Democrat ticket Nov. 4, promising to lead Floridians on “a journey to take back our state’s destiny.”
“I don’t have to tell you that what we have here in Florida today isn’t working,” Crist said. “Governing for the people has been replaced with cronyism and government on the fringes. The voice of the people has been silenced by the financial bullies and the special interests.”
Crist said Republican Gov. Rick Scott had been elected “on a platform of being an outsider,” but had quickly turned from talking about what was wrong in the state capital to “exemplifying what is wrong with the place.”
“The more I watched Rick Scott govern, the partisanship, the deals, always putting the special interests ahead of your interests, and the more I heard from you people, the more I knew it was time to take Florida in a better direction.”
But the president of the Florida Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission said Crist’s changing political philosophy will make it hard to achieve anything positive – at least morally – in the state.
“He has switched philosophies and will be expected to now be pro-abortion and pro-homosexual rights, including homosexual marriage,” FERLC President Bill Bunkley told Florida Baptist Witness.
Bunkley also said Crist can expect the support of longtime friend, current employer and fellow attorney John Morgan, who will use his resources to help elect Crist again. He said Morgan is expected to dedicate large amounts of money to a parallel initiative to add a constitutional amendment authorizing the use of medical marijuana in the state.
“If on the ballot it is expected to drive large numbers of liberals to the polls,” Bunkley said. “They will be counted on to vote for Crist.
Crist was governor from 2006-2010, but decided against a re-election bid late in 2009. Instead, he opted to run for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Republican Mel Martinez. He was defeated by fellow Republican Marco Rubio, now a leading voice among conservative Republicans in Washington.
Recalling his previous record, Crist said his platform would center on good schools, affordable health care, respect for environment, and dignity for the state’s senior citizens. He said he will also pursue tax reform for the middle class and promote job growth through small businesses.
“Right now we have an entire economic plan led by Gov. Scott that is entirely focused on giving away money to corporations. That may be a great way to take care of your friends and raise campaign dollars, but that is no way to build an economy that is built to last.”
Crist’s argument may not resonate with voters, Bunkley said. Florida’s unemployment rate, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor & Statistics (BLS), rose from 3.3 percent in 2006 when Crist took office to 11.1 percent in December 2010. Under Gov. Scott, unemployment has fallen from 10.9 percent to 7 percent in August 2013, according to preliminary figures from the BLS.
The election between Scott and Crist, should he defeat Democratic State Sen. Nan Rich in the primary, will likely be close. Florida’s electorate is nearly evenly divided between the two parties. Slightly more than 1 percent of the total vote separated Scott and his Democratic challenger in 2010.
“Gov. Rick Scott will be running on his record of bringing back both the state economy and the job market after our deep recession. The strength of both areas will be a key factor in the race,” Bunkley said. “But whoever the Democratic nominee will be, both that nominee and the governor will be affected by the potential fallout over Obamacare in the state come November. The governor refused to accept millions in Medicaid funding, and the Florida healthcare.org had a disastrous launch.”
Bunkley said voters in 2014 will be watching, hearing and reading media buys by both sides in the race, all of which will “hammer each other over the Obamacare issue.” That, Bunkley said, is campaigning on the “president’s coattails,” whether positive or negative.
Florida unemployment figures are available from the Bureau of Labor & Statistics at http://www.bls.gov/eag/eag.fl.htm.
You must be login before you can leave a comment. Click here to Register if you are a new user.