The governor of Florida, Charlie Crist, has gotten a lot of publicity nationally for many reasons. Not the least of which being the fact that he’s the governor of the 4th most populous state in the country. Currently he’s running for U.S. Senator, and was initially considered a slam-dunk, but shall we say, the mood has changed?
His opponent in the Republican primary is a guy named Marco Rubio, who is the favorite of the tea partiers. Florida, already being a red-state kind of place, is now apparently shifting to scarlet. Charlie’s warm, fair, populist kind of approach seems to have lost favor. We (Floridians) no longer value those qualities. We’d rather be mad, or scared, or both.
It always amuses me that in polls, people say that what they hate about Congress is that the people involved can’t seem to work together to accomplish anything. When it gets down to electing people to go there, what we want is someone who will stand up for our principles and will never compromise. (Fakename throws her hands up in the air.) When the Legislature is in session (as in now, right this minute), Fakename is always amused by the proliferation of newspaper and TV ads talking about “those people in Tallahassee”. As I am fond of saying: you sent them here, and you can have them back.
So this past week, Governor Charlie did something that is widely reported to be his doom. He vetoed a bill. A Republican-sponsored bill. The bill, which I don’t claim to know many details on, had to do with education. It was rather deceptively named something like “Merit Pay for Teachers”, but was a bit like the definition of justice in the book 1984. The details I did pick up indicated that it would reduce the number of teachers eligible for merit pay, and would tie it to the performance of their students. It was a sort of methamphetamine-enhanced version of No Child Left Behind. As one of the two political reporters for the local newspaper said, it would be like having my pay tied to how many people agree with (or even read) my columns.
Teaching is not a business. Nor for that matter, is government. And in a time long ago and far away I would have said neither are newspapers.
So back to Governor Charlie. If he was in trouble before, and he was, he’s really in trouble now. Immediately after the veto, a poll showed that if Charlie continues to run as a Republican he will lose the nomination in the primary to Rubio. (Nothing I can do about that…I’m a registered Democrat, and in Florida, we can’t do that bizarre switcheroo thing where you can vote in the primary of the opposite party–in order to pick someone you think will lose against your candidate of choice–then re-register ten minutes later.)
So the polls say that if Governor Charlie runs as a Republican in the primary, he loses. But here’s the catch. The polls also say that if he runs as an Independent, he wins the election. Okay then. Win primary? Win the election? Scratch head. What should I do? And here’s the other catch…unlike in Connecticut where Lieberman lost the primary and then ran as an Independent, you can’t do that in Florida. Governor Charlie has to choose before the primary.
Seems like a slam-dunk to me.