Friday, October 01, 2010

First in Flight: Crist Gets Boost From Space Coast Newspaper

Brevard County-based Florida Today became the first major newspaper in the Sunshine State to back a candidate in the hotly-contested three-way Senate race, issuing the following endorsement:

Our views: We recommend Charlie Crist for U.S. Senate
Crist can bring needed independent, moderate voice to Senate

Florida voters have a rare chance to start changing the bitter partisan climate in Congress this year, thanks to strange political times in the Sunshine State.

Gov. Charlie Crist’s decision to leave the Republican Party and run as an independent for the U.S. Senate has opened that door.

His record as a fiscal conservative, but one with progressive views on a job-creating energy policy and a moderate approach on social issues, reflects two things:

First, the nature of the policies that won him the governor’s mansion in 2006 with the bipartisan support of Florida voters.

Second, the kind of non-dogmatic voices needed in Congress to counter the ideological rigidity blocking progress on important issues such as reducing the nation’s deficit and debt.

For those reasons, Crist earns our recommendation.

Commendable service

His service as governor during the worst recession since the Great Depression has been commendable.

Declining state revenues made painful cutbacks in the state budget unavoidable, but Crist steered Florida clear of extreme tax-cutting measures backed by some GOP lawmakers that would have decimated core government functions such as public safety, the courts and education.

He rightly approved accepting federal stimulus funds that saved or created an estimated 80,000 Florida jobs, including 20,000 teacher positions, and put other state residents back to work on transportation and infrastructure projects.

Crist pushed the Legislature in 2009 to require Florida to produce 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. Those are smart standards needed to create new alternative energy jobs, including on the Space Coast where thousands of highly skilled space industry workers now face layoffs.

However, Republicans in the House killed the initiative, worsening the state’s chances of capturing green energy jobs that other states are snapping up.

Crist acutely understands the importance of NASA’s future to Florida’s economy.

He was strongly behind the additional $31 million in funding the state Legislature gave state space initiatives this year and can be trusted to fight hard for NASA in the coming post-shuttle years.

And he stood up for schools in vetoing the deeply flawed Senate bill that would have forced an unfair merit pay system on Florida teachers.

Not a perfect candidate

That said, Crist has his problems.

He has too often tacked with the political winds in trying to gain the support of voters.

Prior to the Gulf oil spill, he was leaning toward approving drilling in Florida waters, but changed his tune after the disaster. He’s also waffled on federal health care reform — he’s been against it and for it — and offered differing views on gay rights.

Despite campaigning for governor on a strong pro-environment platform, Crist signed a 2009 law gutting decades of state growth management regulation that protected Florida’s natural resources from rampant development and sprawl.

His appointment of Jim Greer to head the Florida Republican Party was a disaster. Greer is now under indictment for corruption and leading Florida Republican lawmakers are under as many as 11 federal and state investigations for possible wrongdoing.

Which brings us to Republican Marco Rubio, a former speaker of the Florida House.

Rubio too far right

Rubio is a far-right candidate who would only contribute to the harsh polarization in Washington.

He is deeply involved in the GOP scandal, with credit-card statements from 2007-08 showing he charged nearly $100,000 on the party card, including thousands for personal expenses such as car repair, online purchases, movie tickets and a haircut.

Rubio says he has repaid any personal expenses, but he is reportedly under investigation by the IRS for tax evasion and refuses to release earlier credit card statements, raising suspicion there’s more to be uncovered.

Those and other financial missteps badly damage Rubio’s credibility as a fiscal watchdog.

He also opposed both the stimulus and Wall Street bank stabilization program, and would have done nothing to prevent the country from sliding into another Great Depression, instead of taking necessary but unpopular steps to stop the economic meltdown.

Democratic contender Kendrick Meek of Miami, a former state senator and representative, has served well in the U.S. House since 2002, but also adheres closely to his party’s line.

In all, Crist’s independence better positions him to help change the dysfunctional status quo on Capitol Hill for the better.

He should be Florida’s next senator.


Argo Journal said...

Senate candidate Crist: Meek's unelectable and Rubio Republicans have "lost their minds"

With the clock ticking toward the Nov. 2 election and knowing he must pick up Democratic votes, independent U.S. Senate candidate Gov. Charlie Crist on Friday described his GOP opponent as a scary right-winger and his Democratic challenger as a nice guy who just can't win.

Speaking to The Palm Beach Post editorial board, Crist likened Republican candidate Marco Rubio to another tea party-backed U.S. Senate candidate, witchcraft-dabbling Christine O'Donnell of Delaware.

"That's fringy stuff," Crist said of Rubio's stand on various issues. "Damned right."

He said he has no quarrel with Democratic candidate U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek. "God bless the congressman, he's a fine person, a good guy," he said.

The difference between him and Meek, he said, is simple.

"I can win," Crist said. "And I think that it's important in this race, unless you want to have a radical right U.S. Senator, a decision has to be made pretty fast, in the next 32 days. What's the reasonable alternative, and can it be victorious? I'm that person."

"The real threat to Rubio is that somehow the Meek and Crist voters get together and decide to support one of the two," said Robert Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. Its latest poll, released Thursday, showed Rubio with 46 percent of the vote, Crist with 33 percent and Meek with 18 percent.

Both rival camps said the most amazing claim Crist made during Friday's hour-long editorial board interview was insisting he would have left the Republican Party even if primary polls had showed he was leading Rubio by 20 percent. When reminded that he had repeatedly insisted he wouldn't run as an independent, he said: "Things do evolve and they change."

He attributed his change of heart to Republican-backed measures passed late in the spring legislative session that would have required women to get ultra sounds before having abortions and one that would have tied teacher pay hikes to student performance. He vetoed both bills.

"My party left me and I was glad to leave it -- at least the far right part of it," he said of the decision he announced in late April. "I couldn't be comfortable in it any more. I mean literally."

He said he still believes a child should be raised by a man and a woman. But, he said, he probably won't appeal a recent appeals court decision that struck down as unconstitutional the state ban on homosexuals adoption children. "I'm happy with the ruling," he said.

Further, he said, while he is pro-life, he would never force his views on others. Rubio's vow to work to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortions, is one example of his "fringe" positions, Crist said.

Other examples Crist offered of Rubio's extremism are his plan to increase the age of eligibility and reduce benefits to keep Social Security afloat and his suggestion that liberal MSNBC newscaster Keith Olbermann and left-leaning actress/activist Janeane Garofalo leave the country and be replaced with people who love the U.S.

He said Rubio's stands embody the changes in his former party. "I think they've lost their minds," he said.

Argo Journal said...
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Argo Journal said...

Questions and answers with U.S. Senate candidate Gov. Crist

Independent U.S. Senate candidate Gov. Charlie Crist met with The Palm Beach Post editorial board Friday. Some of the exchanges:

Q. How would you keep Social Security solvent?

A: "One way I think we can do it is, with good immigration policy. . . . First secure the borders, but also create a pathway to citizenship . . . for people to be able to become active in the American economy and American society and pay into programs such as Social Security, as we are currently, because they would have to pay the payroll taxes, the FICA taxes. If we have that kind of a thoughtful, comprehensive immigration reform, the 11 to 14 million people that are not currently citizens would become citizens and pay into the system, help it be more solvent and help our bottom line in Washington, D.C.

Q. You favor extending Bush's tax cuts, but how would you replace the projected $4 trillion that would be lost over 10 years?

A. "I'm an optimist and in my optimistic view I am hopeful that the economy begins to turn around and whenever the economy has started to turn around, it helps every level of government meet the needs of the people."

Q. Will you caucus with Democrats or Republicans?

A. "It's important to go to Washington and ask some very tough questions of both parties before rendering a decision. Those questions would include: what are you going to do to help prop up our economy; what are you going to do to help with job creation in Florida; what are you going to do to help us with the national catastrophic fund, you know, what are you going to do to protect our environment and meet your obligations as it relates to the Everglades? And depending which answers I get from the two, I'll reach a decision that is best for Florida. . . . The answer could be caucusing with one or the other or not at all."

Q. How would you balance the federal budget?

A. "I would do it the same way we did it in Tallahassee, you know: look at all the programs, see what they provide for the people, try to be able to increase those programs or at least sustain those that are the most important to the people you serve."

Argo Journal said...

GOP operative slams Rubio, Atwater

Republican operative Chris Ingram is out with his ballot recommendations, and (surprise!) most of them are for Republicans or GOP-favored amendments. But a couple of races caught our eye: He endorses Libertarian Alex Snitker in the Senate race, Loranne Ausley in the CFO race and urges a no vote on the class size amendment.

In the Senate race, he calls Charlie Crist, Marco Rubio and Kendrick Meek all "crooked" and says Snitker "enthusiastic and sincere." Amendment 8, he says, would "erode public education."

But Ingram saves his strongest stuff for his endorsement of Ausley (really an endorsement against Jeff Atwater): Loranne Ausley is hardly a Tallahassee outsider, but running against State Senate President Jeff Atwater she looks like the Mother Teresa of Florida politics. Atwater is probably the most disingenuous and self-serving elected officials in the entire state – quite a feat in a state that is home to Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio. He rails against “big government” spending in Washington while balancing the state’s budget on the backs of the next generation in the form of Obama stimulus funds. Ausley probably would have done the same, but Republicans should expect and demand better. Send double-talking G.O.P. candidates a message by sending Atwater back to whatever rock he crawled out from.