OPINION

Raoul Lowery Contreras: A Florida Flip-Flop

Former Florida governor Charlie Crist.

Former Florida governor Charlie Crist.  (2014 Getty Images)

Florida is today’s political laboratory on whether a politician can change one’s lifelong record by changing political party.

New York was the laboratory in the 60s when a star Republican Congressman John Lindsey ran for mayor from an Upper Eastside “Silk Stocking” congressional district and won. California was next when former Democrat Ronald Reagan ran for California Governor as a Republican, won and went on to become President. Texas currently is governed by Republican Rick Perry who used to be a Democrat.

The trouble with Charlie is, every time he states a position, it’s the opposite of where he was last time he was governor. He’s got to defend that kind of moral dishonesty over and over again for the next how many months?

- Dean Keller

Charlie Crist has served as a Florida Republican State Senator, Republican state Attorney General and as a one-term Republican Governor who ran for the U.S. Senate, lost to Republican Marco Rubio and is now running for his old job as Governor – this time as a Democrat.

Since announcing for the office last fall, Crist has spent most of his time raising money, millions, in fact. But it was what he was not doing that is coming to the surface. Question, is he really running for Governor?

Adam Smith of the Tampa Times writes: “It may not be readily apparent if you follow the Florida media that constantly notes Charlie Crist’s campaign for governor or the Washington Pundits who describe Charlie Crist v. Rick Scott as THE race to watch in 2014. But here’s the reality: There is no real Crist campaign for Governor.”

More On This...

Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald writes: “Why is (Crist) still putting together a staff when it was known six months ago he would be running?”

Campaign followers note that in March 2013 the Quinnipiac University poll had Crist up 16 points on incumbent governor Rick Scott. Last fall the PPP poll had Crist up by 12 points. PPP released its most current poll a few days ago and the results were a statistical tie, 43 percent for Crist and 41 percent for Scott. This precipitous decline occurred during his non-campaign campaign. No breakdown was given in the polls about Hispanic voters.

Four years ago, Republican amateur politician Rick Scott surprised everyone when he split the Florida Hispanic vote with Democrat Alex Sink and defeated her. Hispanic Democrats are suggesting today that Scott has no chance to repeat that performance with Hispanics, but, are they being partisan or objective?

In 2012, 1.66 million Florida Hispanics were registered to vote of which 645,000 were Democrats and 476,000 were Republicans. Of all Florida voters, 13.9 percent are Hispanic with 32 percent of them being Cuban, 28 percent Puerto Rican and 9 percent Mexican. Will low off-presidential year turnout equalize party strength? That is very likely. More important are the issues.

Of course, this story assumes Crist will win the Democratic nomination for Governor by defeating former State Senator Nan Rich in the primary. She has been running for almost two years. Her fundraising is weak but she is counting on a grassroots campaign of regular Florida Democrats. Many of her issues with Crist are positions and actions Crist took and made while a Republican Attorney General and Governor.

Rich supporter Dean Keller is quoted in the Sunshine State News: “The trouble with Charlie is, every time he states a position, it’s the opposite of where he was last time he was governor. He’s got to defend that kind of moral dishonesty over and over again for the next how many months? Too many months. In the end, Democrats won’t want to  come out for Crist. But Nan Rich doesn’t have that kind of handicap.”

Reaching outside Florida, Crist has named Obama political technicians to run his “campaign.” From the influential Shark Tank political blog: “One little, two little, three little Obama minions, will be part of former Republican-turned Democrat Charlie Crist’s gubernatorial campaign in Florida…Obama’s former campaign manager, Jim Messina, will be joining the Team Crist as a “senior strategic advisor, who joins Obama alums Jim Margolis and Steve Schale, who was Obama’s senior advisor.”

But how can these “experts” overcome history? In 2004, Attorney General Charlie Crist voted against an increase in minimum wage while on the Board of Enterprise Florida. He now criticizes Governor Scott for wondering if raising the minimum wage is a wise thing to do.

Crist’s record on gay issues overwhelms anything else he has opined on in that (a) Governor Crist supported a Florida state ban on same sex marriage equality, (b) Crist supported a state ban on Gay adoptions; and (c) He opposed repeal of the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

How does he overcome this history of anti-Gay positions that many Democrats abhorred at the time and still do? He says, “I’m sorry” nine times in an interview in a Gay publication, Watermark.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry I did that. It was a mistake. I was wrong. Please forgive me…I’m sorry. I’m sorry…It was wrong. That’s what I’m telling you and I’m sorry.”

Obama’s Messina and his people managed to sell the country that “if you like your health plan, you can keep it” lie; can they sell Floridian Democrats former Republican, turned Independent, turned Democrat Charlie Crist?     

Raoul Lowery Contreras is a political consultant. He was formerly with the New American News Service of the New York Times Syndicate. Contreras's books are available at Amazon.com

Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter & Instagram

TRENDING IN OPINION