Throughout the annals of recent Florida political history, a number of notable figures come to mind.
Jeb Bush: Two-term governor who successfully spearheaded meaningful education reform in the state. In many ways, the brother of W. is a forefather to the recent stream of governors, elected in the last 4 years, who have dared do what they say and implement meaningful, positive reform. Through it all, he has maintained a consistent conservatism while offering ideas, and differences with the Republican norm, in a pragmatic fashion that has kept him in high standing, despite a last name that some still regard as toxic. (Full disclosure: I don’t.)
Marco Rubio: Proverbial rockstar of the GOP who defeated this post’s primary topic just two short years ago. An undeniably bright future lies ahead for this freshman Senator.
Rick Scott: Elected governor, also in 2010, Scott’s approval ratings aren’t the best but here again is a governor who has dared act on the platform he ran on. Such efforts have helped spearhead Florida to being named the second best place to do business in the nation. Heck, he recently beat Texas Governor Rick Perry (coincidentally, best state to do business in 8 years running) in a deep sea fishing contest.
Then there’s Charlie Crist.
Among the annals of Florida political history, Crist is definitely the role model of “how to be a political opportunist in the most obvious fashion”. You thought 2010 was his magnum opus, but the last couple of days have ensured that there will truly be no political mind quite like this one in Florida history, at least we should hope not.
Crist is a former Republican governor of the Sunshine State. Now a registered Independent, this weekend brought news that he was officially endorsing the re-election bid of President Obama and this morning revealed that he will, in fact, be speaking at the Democratic National Convention. Yippie.
Let’s recap. To say that this fella’s sheer opportunism is not obvious, and without limits, is an understatement. For starters, some poetic words spoken two years ago by then-Republican Governor and Senate candidate, Charlie Crist:
Crist says if Obamacare passes, it would be “devastating” for Florida. “I’m concerned about them trying to ram this through.”
Does his position on the bill differ from Marco Rubio, his GOP Senate primary opponent? No, he says. “I don’t think there are any differences.”
As many of you know, Marco Rubio is a staunch advocate for the repeal of President Obama’s legislative signature. That was in March. Just months later, in July specifically, Crist had this to say about the same issue. Note that by this point he had switched to running for Senate as an Independent:
Mr. Crist has made other policy shifts. Despite pledging as a Republican to help repeal President Obama’s health-care overhaul, Mr. Crist now says he does not support such a move.
“It should be modified,” [Crist says,] a stance short of repeal.
Of course, here the entire reason for Crist’s party-switch should be noted. Because of various factors, all political, it was increasingly clear that Florida’s governor was going to get beaten, and not even by a close margin, by the upstart Marco Rubio. Sensing that he would stand a better chance of victory running a three-way general race, Crist said to hell with it and dropped out of the Republican primary. Not content with simply running under an Independent mantle, Crist subsequently rescinded support of conservative measures (like repealing ‘Obamacare’) and proved so many of his critics right all along.
By the way, he lost.
Now, he’s set to go full circle, speaking at what used to be the opposing party’s convention this year. Democrats will herald this as symbolic revenge for Zell Miller and Joe Lieberman speaking at the past two GOP confabs, not to mention Artur Davis this year. But there’s a clear difference.
Miller and Lieberman each addressed Republicans on the basis of principle, not ambition. Miller dominated politics in the very state I’m typing from for years, I would know. Heck, in his 1992 Democratic National Convention speech, he derided “liberals” determined to keep Americans on welfare. Yes, that term was used in a negative way by a then-Democrat Governor at the DNC.
He was in the middle of his final term in the Senate and it was clear that Lieberman’s day in the political spotlight had already passed. Each addressed Republicans due to major policy differences with their party’s nominee. Lieberman now retires as an Independent himself and, as for Artur Davis, track his voting record in Congress and you’ll see that his party left him.
Now Crist is a different matter. It’s widely assumed that he’s ramping up to run again for governor in two short years, this time as a Democrat. The only thing to speculate on is how far his personal ambition will let him drive to the Left for such a speech.
What’s truly terrifying about the entire matter is that barely over three years ago Crist was considered a prospective frontrunner for the Republican nomination in 2012.
Utter opportunism at its finest is on display here.
Good riddance that he’s gone over to the opposite side of the aisle.