Thursday, April 15, 2010

When Will Charlie Crist (R-FL) Dump The Ugly Albatross Around His Neck?


As we mentioned this morning, current polling shows that the grassroots of the Florida GOP is so dominated by ignorant extremists and anti-American sociopaths that even a proven conservative like Charlie Crist can't win a Republican primary. He would almost certainly win a three-way general election race against a weak, floundering Democrat who stands for nothing-- Kendrick Meek-- and a fringe fanatic of the right-- Rubio-- representing the Republicans. So when will Crist declare he's running as an independent? His veto this afternoon of SB6 is widely viewed as the first step towards ditching the Republican Party. He said that he knew in his heart it was the right thing to do. And it was; but it wasn't the right-wing thing to do. And they're going bonkers.
The Florida Senate passed the bill 21-17; it got through the House of Representatives by a 64-55 vote. The bill had strong support among Republican Party leadership, but some in the GOP joined Democrats in opposition.

"I'm disappointed," said state GOP Chairman Sen. John Thrasher, who sponsored the bill in the Senate.

Crist has been inundated with messages about the bill, receiving more than 109,000. Though about 49,000 were still unread, almost 58,000 of the messages that had been logged were against the bill.

He had frequently said that he wanted to take his time to hear from his "bosses," the people of Florida, as he made up his mind.

Thousands of teachers in Miami-Dade took the day off Monday in protest; students throughout South Florida have walked out of class to show how they feel.

Under the bill, half of a teacher's evaluation would depend on what kind of learning gains their students made. Those evaluations would determine their pay. New teachers would have been hired on annual contracts with no chance of tenure.

Today's Washington Post doesn't go as far as speculating which party Senator Crist will caucus with-- maybe he and Lieberman and Nelson can have their own caucus-- but they certainly raise the possibility, if not likelihood, that he will run as an independent.
Gov. Charlie Crist was once a rapidly rising Republican star, a potential running mate for John McCain, a man with a bright political future who moved from an obscure state post to education commissioner, attorney general and governor - all within six years.

Now it's becoming increasingly likely that Crist's dream of becoming a U.S. senator will compel him to bolt from the GOP, the party that once nurtured him but has moved too far right for even a political chameleon like him to handle... Crist must decide by April 30 if he will remain in the Republican primary or take his chances as an independent, which Brown said appears to be his best bet for political survival. He cannot switch after the Aug. 24 primary, so his political future hinges on whatever decision he makes about running as an independent in the coming weeks.

...In early March, Crist dwelled on the merits of moderation as he delivered his State of the State message to the Legislature, lambasting politicians who hold "extreme views."

Most of the Democratic minority applauded Crist's remarks. Most of the Republican majority did not.

And this probably isn't the kind of ad Ronald Reagan would have approved one Republican running against another-- even if the subject is a crazed fanatic reeking of corruption and likely to drag the GOP down into the toilet with him:

The two newest candidates to throw their hats into the Florida political campaign, both for congressional seats, are progressives strongly identified with working for the interests of ordinary American families, Joe Garcia and Dave Lutrin, himself a public school teacher. Both men recognized the bill as among what Joe called "the worst anti-family concoctions ever created by Tallahassee politicians." This evening Dave told us his state's Republican governor made the right move this time
Bravo to Governor Crist for coming to his senses to veto SB6, the worst attack on public education since No Child Left Behind. With one stroke of his pen he did what elected officials are supposed to do; he listened to the will of the people. More importantly, he saved public education from micro-management by politicians, stood-up for teaching professional, and he reminded the Republican legislature and Jeb Bush that Charlie Crist is the governor of Florida, not Jeb. Also, he resurrected his campaign for the U.S. Senate for at least another day. I hope there is more ink in that veto pen because there are more bad bills in the pipeline coming to his desk that will cut retirement benefits for not only teachers, but for all Florida state workers (except elected officials), as well as cut health insurance benefits for teachers statewide.

If you know Joe Garcia at all, you know he was urging Crist to veto the bill. The photo on the left is of him with teachers and students demonstrating today against it. His campaign manager pointed out that "Tallahassee politicians... want to take their anti-family agenda to Washington. They talk a lot about family values, but don't really value families. They believe that the way to create prosperity is by siding with the special interests that bankroll their campaigns, while punishing middle class families.  They believe in raising taxes and fees on small businesses and families in the middle of a recession.  And some even believe it's a good idea to use tax-payer dollars to build a luxury baseball stadium, while short-changing our kids' schools and Jackson Memorial Hospital." Joe went further:
The devastating effects that SB6 would have had on families hit close to home. My brother and his wife, an expecting mother, are both public school teachers. This was undoubtedly one of the worst anti-family laws ever created by Tallahassee politicians and it would have further weakened our already-battered schools. Our children deserve the same, if not better, opportunities than the ones previous generations had. I applaud Gov. Crist for doing the right thing and vetoing this anti-family bill."

Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Karen Thurman wasn't exactly congratulating Crist on vetoing the bill but she was essentially on the same side as he, Dave Lutrin and Joe Garcia (not to mention the teachers, parents and students) are. "Today's veto of SB6." she said, "shows why Floridians need to elect Alex Sink as our next Governor. She will be a check on the Legislature's attempts to gut local control, bully Florida's teachers, and hurt the students of our state... I would also like to congratulate the teachers, parents, school board members, school superintendents, and all Floridians who fought so hard for our state's children and against this bill. However, our work is not done. Because it is clear that Tallahassee politicians like AG Bill McCollum, Senator Jeff Atwater and the other Republicans who fought for this Tallahassee cram-down no longer care about representing the values or priorities of those who sent them there to serve, we need to continue this fight and defeat them come Election Day."

Not everyone is celebrating of course; the Speaker-designate of Florida's lower house, Dean Cannon, is rescinding his endorsement of Crist over this and going over to the crazy side with the lunatic fringe left-behinds behind Rubio. I think we'll be seeing quite a lot of this kind of behavior over the next month or so. Back to the good news: watch state Senator Dan Gelber:

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