positioning himself well for future political runs, said Darryl Paulson, professor of government at the University of South Florida-St. Petersburg, who has known Crist for more than 20 years."For McCain, there is much to like about Crist."
"I do think he wants to be a major player in the Republican Party," Paulson said. "I wouldn't be a bit surprised if four years down the road, eight years down the road, he jumps into the presidential campaign."
Tapping Crist could help McCain win Florida, a must-win battleground state."But McCain also has to weigh Crist's negatives in choosing a running mate."
Viewed by many as a post-partisan Republican who is more problem solver than ideologue, Crist's approval ratings as governor are 65 percent. He has won support from Democrats by pushing to restore voting rights to felons and lower greenhouse emissions, appointing minorities to key positions and dropping the official state song -- deemed racist by some -- from his inauguration.
Despite his snowy hair, he is 20 years younger than McCain, who at 72 would be the oldest president elected to a first term. While McCain has faced questions about his health, including a bout with skin cancer, the deeply tanned Crist is a fitness buff who has made mandatory gym classes for children one of his legislative priorities.
Crist has experience governing a state, a void for McCain, a military hero who has been in Washington since he was first elected to the House in 1982.
"He's never run anything as large and complex as a state," said James Thurber, director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University.
On the other hand, Crist's experience as the state's chief executive is not extensive.
"He's been a chief executive only a year and he has limited foreign policy experience," Paulson said.
Few politicians can maintain a 60-plus percent approval rating for long, and Crist's challenges could dampen his prospects as a No. 2 candidate.[Curious that the writers fail to mention what these "private life" questions are - the matter has received extensive discussion: "Is Charlie Crist gay?", "To tricky question, Crist has brief reply" and "GOP Gov. Candidate Crist Denies Gay Trysts...".]
The state's economy is sagging with a nearly 13 percent drop in tax revenues possibly leading to deep cuts in education and services for the poor.
Paulson said Crist should turn down the slot if offered to him: "Florida has a mess of problems ... and he needs to pay attention to those problems."
Crist, like McCain, is not considered a strong conservative, an attribute McCain could seek elsewhere to balance the ticket.
Florida Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer said wooing the conservative base is no longer needed. [ed. note: say what?]
"No one segment of the party dominates the outcome of an election anymore," he said. "The idea of balancing the ticket by different views? Those days are over. The dynamics of politics have changed."
Other questions about Crist involve his personal life. He is single; no candidate for president or vice president has been unmarried since Herbert Hoover's vice president, Charles Curtis, who was a widower.
And during the 2006 gubernatorial campaign, allegations about his private life briefly surfaced. Crist denied the allegations repeatedly, but they likely would reappear in a national campaign.
Florida Democratic Party has ripped Crist in recent days for spending more time this year campaigning for a state tax-cut proposal and McCain than working on gubernatorial matters."Vice president speculation trails Crist". See also "McCain-Crist ticket? Candidate noncommittal".
"Empty Chair Charlie's brazen disrespect for the people is appalling," Florida Democratic Party spokesman Mark Bubriski said in a statement. "He's spent more than enough time at photo-ops with McCain this year already -- how about spending some time governing, governor?"
"While addressing a boisterous breakfast-hour gathering of 250 supporters at Howley's Restaurant on Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach, McCain was repeatedly interrupted with applause from the backers, several of whom shouted 'Crist for V.P.'" "McCain stumps in West Palm Beach".
The "values" crowd in action
"Florida lawmakers are cutting more than just dollars as they whittle more than $500-million from state government; they're also proposing basic changes to Medicaid that critics say will undermine care for poor patients." "Senate freezes Medicaid".
"The Florida Senate OK'd roughly $500 million in cuts to the state's $70 billion budget Thursday, capping a grim opening week for a Legislature facing even more reductions to next year's spending plan. Senators then turned around and began taking an ax to the 2008-09 budget, agreeing to erase automatic increases that nursing homes, hospitals and other health-care providers get each year as payment for treating low-income Floridians. Facing the need to cut as much as $2.5 billion, leading lawmakers said it was time to get serious, even if it meant risking harm to the needy." "Senate budget ax strikes at automatic increases for health care".
More: "Budget agreement expected today". See also "House Votes To Cut Current Budget By $517 Million", "$500 million budget cut receives Florida Senate approval" and "Senate cuts $500 million from budget".
"State lawmakers around the country are proposing hundreds of bills this year aimed at curbing illegal immigration, but experts say the cost and public opposition will keep many from becoming law." "State lawmakers propose more immigration bills, few gain traction".
"Fair ways to re-enfranchise 1.75 million voters"
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "It's unacceptable that Florida's vote in the January Democratic primary is not being represented in the national tally of delegates for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Some 1.75 million Democrats voted on Jan. 29. The result -- 50 percent for Clinton, 33 percent for Obama -- may or may not decide the nomination. That it should be part of the decision is indisputable. That the state and national Democratic parties and their two candidates work out a way to make Florida's voice count through its 210 delegates is imperative." "To count in Florida".
"The biggest stumbling block to doing over the Democratic primaries in Michigan and Florida may be the cost."
Michigan Democratic Chairman Mark Brewer estimates it would cost the state party $8 million to $12 million to set up party-run election sites and allow voting by mail or over the Internet."Big roadblock to do-over elections in Mich., Fla. may be money". Bill Cotterell yesterday: "What might have been". The Miami Herald editorial board: "Florida voters must not be silenced".
Florida Democrats could be facing even higher costs.
During a meeting Wednesday night among House Democrats from Florida and Michigan, Rep. Alcee Hastings of Florida relayed estimates that another primary would cost the state between $22 million and $24 million, a vote-by-mail contest would cost at least $8 million and the bill for a caucus would be about $4 million, said Hastings spokesman David Goldenberg.
"The solution to the state Democratic Party's primary problem could be just a click away. Advocates of Internet voting say they could conduct a Democratic do-over presidential primary that would offer security at least equal to the security of an equally rare ballot by mail, while attracting more voters -- and at about half the cost." "Voting solution could be a click away". More: "Democratic revote may be by mail".
See also "Nelson wants DNC to pay for new election", "Dean: DNC won't change delegate rules for Florida" "Money a big hurdle to Florida primary do-over", "Nelson calls for another state Democratic primary", "Another presidential primary in Florida? Don't count on it" and "Crist: State should oversee revote".
The Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "It makes no sense to redo Florida, Michigan presidential primaries".
A money thing
"Voters would get a chance to change who controls the education system in Florida under a proposed constitutional amendment approved Friday by a House panel." "House panel approves elected ed commissioner amendment".
False light for me but not for 'ye
"In a clash of press and privacy rights that has drawn national attention, skeptical Florida Supreme Court justices raised pointed questions Thursday about permitting lawsuits against publishers and broadcasters for casting a 'false light' on facts and information in news stories. ... most of the justices seemed to doubt that Florida should adopt the 'false light' doctrine that permits suits over news items that are accurate or non-defamatory [but are misleading]." "'False light' cases get day in court".
"A coalition of about 20 space-related businesses and interests joined Thursday to promote the space industry's value as an economic engine as part of the annual Space Day at Florida's Capitol." "Space Day at Capitol highlights industry".
"Not all that impressed with Florida"
The Miami Herald editorial board: "This will come as no surprise, but experts who judge government performance are not all that impressed with Florida." "Grades turn-around puts heat on state".
"President Bush says a leadership shift in Cuba to Fidel Castro's brother will not change U.S. policy toward the island." "Bush pushes democracy for Cuba, calls for improved human rights".
Land-use changes petition
"Frank Govett of Leon County said he signed a statewide petition to require that voters approve land-use changes after watching developers get what they want at county commission meetings." "Pelham offers new option 'Citizens Planning Bill of Rights' offered in response to 'Hometown Democracy'".
Sorry 'bout that
The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "When an individual, organization, state or nation perpetrates an act or policy so harmful to an innocent person or group of people, the right thing to do is to repair the damage to whatever reasonable extent possible."
That's a long-standing principle in our Judeo-Christian tradition, and a pillar of civil law."Regret and redemption".
In 2008, it's time for Florida to express regret for parts of its distant and recent past, make amends — and create a more just system for compensating current and future victims of state error.
By three acts — apologizing for the state's role in slavery, the most dehumanizing institution in history; compensating wrongfully convicted ex-inmate Alan Crotzer; and passing new legislation that standardizes fair treatment for victims of wrongful incarceration — Florida would make a meaningful symbolic and actual statement:
That this state, which is known for its sunshine, is also big enough to face up to its dark history and take steps to avoid injustice in the future.
How about that Mr.
Fung Happy Face?
"Florida's economy worsened in January when 7,300 workers lost their jobs, resulting mostly from a construction industry bogged down as a result of a plunging housing market." "Slumping housing market claims 7,300 more workers".
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Agriculture is central to the state's economy, so it's foolish for the University of Florida to consider balancing its budget on the back of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Yet to cut $50 million from the university's budget by July 1, UF President Bernie Machen is reportedly prepared to pare the institute by 200 to 300 faculty members and close or cut extension offices in all 67 Florida counties." "Agriculture Should Hold Its Own As UF Cuts Its Budget".
"Just when you thought a sluggish economy and the state's budget woes would delay progress on milestone legislation this year, one bill is rapidly gaining support among Florida lawmakers." "Next icon: gopher tortoise?".
"A special House committee quickly approved a settlement Thursday with lobbyist William Barrett who agreed to pay a $10,000 fine for unregistered lobbying for the cities of Palm Bay and St. Cloud." "Lobbyist fined for unregistered lobbying".
The Tampa Tribune editorial board:
Congresswoman Ginny Brown-Waite may do a good job representing constituents on policy matters, but she does a lousy job minimizing the damage caused by putting her foot in her mouth. ..."Congresswoman, An Apology Is In Order".
Instead of owning up to her insensitive and incorrect remarks, Brown-Waite stubbornly tried to turn the tables on some of the people she offended: She criticized a protest against her last week in Brooksville, organized by Orange County Democrats, and demanded they reimburse local officials for the cost of providing police coverage and other control measures.
Brown-Waite should recognize that a peaceful protest is a fundamental American right.
Brown-Waite even complained about organizers not delivering the number of people they told local officials to expect. The tough-talking representative must not have enough to do. Whether reimbursement is in order is a matter between Hernando County officials and the Orange County Democratic Party.
Ginny has a hard time apologizing; indeed, it is unclear whether she is even a sentient being. Recall that she actually "introduced legislation to let families bring back, at government expense, the remains of Americans who fought, died and were buried in France during two world wars. It was a slap at the French for their opposition to U.S. military action against Iraq, just as French fries and French toast were renamed 'freedom fries' and 'freedom toast' in House restaurants.".
"A second major property tax-cutting proposal advanced Thursday in a commission that proposes state constitutional amendments, but only one is likely to go on the November ballot. The new plan being considered by the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission would cut taxes about 12 percent when fully implemented. It would provide a 25 percent 'super exemption' for all residential properties, including second homes and rentals." "'Super exemption' mulled for all homes". See also "Commission gets 2nd plan to cut property tax".
"Amid construction of one of his latest multimillion-dollar ventures several years ago, luxury golf course community developer Bobby Ginn came up against what some would have found to be an obstacle - a nesting pair of bald eagles." "Developer sets aside land for eagles, praised by environmentalist".
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board:
Given the contentious crossfire between Cuban exiles and Fidel Castro, it's not too surprising that a bill placing more state oversight on travel agents selling trips to Cuba is gaining support in the Florida House."Our position: Travel agents selling illegal trips to Cuba is a federal, not state, issue".
But it's also wrong.
Rep. David Rivera, a Miami Republican, has the backing from the state House committee on agribusiness, but it would be ludicrous if the bill ever goes any further.
Scott Maxwell: "I know I'm not the only one who hears Bobby McFerrin whistling and singing every time Charlie Crist opens his mouth."
This week's State of the State speech was the perfect example."Sing-song optimism fails to hit high note".
Right now, the economy's in the toilet. There are questions about efforts to reform both taxes and insurance. And it looks as if the state may need duct tape and a glue gun to cobble together next year's budget.
But our governor simply says: Don't worry. Be happy.
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "As an example of how direct legislative control over Florida universities might look, senators played the role exquisitely on Wednesday. Not willing to listen as university chancellor Mark Rosenberg described his misgivings with a fast-track plan to abolish the Board of Governors, they instead wanted to insult him." "Legislative bullying won't fix universities".
"The Ken Pruitt Employment Act"
"If the Florida Senate wants to improve transparency in public education, it should start by calling a sweeping piece of reform legislation what it really is: the Ken Pruitt Employment Act." "Pruitt's Ambitions Trump Standards".
Citizens Property Insurance
"Legislators gave an early thumbs-up Thursday to a bill that would be the first step in a major overhaul of state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp." "House panel OKs Citizens Property Insurance overhaul bill".
Berger Singerman gets some action
"Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink asked Florida lawmakers Thursday to take stronger steps to help local governments on the hook for money the state invested in shaky, mortgage-backed securities. Sink released a 10-point plan to deal with the issues that caused a run last fall on the Local Government Investment Pool managed by the State Board of Administration. No. 1 on her list: She wants the law firm the state has retained, Fort Lauderdale-based Berger Singerman, to review whether the state can sue the brokers that sold the securities." "Florida weighs lawsuit over struggling investment fund".
What about counterfeit guvs?
"But counterfeit goods are a growing problem in Florida, said Attorney General Bill McCollum, who on Thursday announced an offensive against fake consumer products." "Florida to crack down on counterfeit goods".
As Charlie smiles ....
"South Florida gas prices hit record highs second week in a row".
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "Public awareness of the need to treat depression and other mental health disorders just like physical health issues has risen significantly in recent years. Yet Florida lags behind and allows health insurers to limit and price mental health benefits differently than coverage for physical ailments. After years of deferring to the powerful insurance lobby and killing efforts to require parity for mental health and substance abuse disorders, the Legislature should quit ignoring this significant public health issue and level the playing field." "A fight for fairness on mental health".