The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board points out that "the Republican Party of Florida left Crist first when it started vilifying him for moves toward the center and away from the rigid ideology of its conservative base, a strategy taking place nationwide to purge the GOP of moderate officeholders."
We're not picking any favorites in the Senate race. November is a long way off and there's much we want to know from all the candidates. Ultimately, voters will decide."Crist's bold run".
But Crist's campaign is welcome in moving away from the extreme partisanship infecting politics in Florida and the nation.
That extremism is visible in the RPOF witch hunt now under way against possible Crist supporters. A memo issued last week warned Republican leaders the party loyalty oath forbids them from supporting unaffiliated candidates who run against GOP nominees, and any who do could be booted out.
That kind of lock-step rigidity is bad for the party and the state and is why Crist's independent run brings fresh air to Sunshine State politics.
"Even before Gov. Charlie Crist announced his independent bid for the U.S. Senate, political analysts began drawing comparisons between the governor's new path and Sen. Joe Lieberman's 2006 race, when the Connecticut Democrat lost the primary, bucked his party and won as an independent."
And there are certain parallels. Crist, after all, had "The Hug,'' his 2009 embrace of President Barack Obama and the $787 billion stimulus package that enraged conservative Republicans. Lieberman had "The Kiss,'' his 2005 nuzzle with former President George W. Bush, whom he backed on the Iraq War to the dismay of many anti-war Democrats."Crist's independent bid draws Lieberman comparisons".
There are other similarities, too, analysts say -- a "likability'' factor, for one. But overall, the differences between the two races are greater than the similarities, Lieberman campaign operatives and political observers say, underscoring what Crist called the "uncharted territory'' of his political future.
For example, Lieberman was a nationally known Democrat running for reelection to his fourth term in a small state friendly to independents. His Republican opponent had little backing and Lieberman had a national fundraising base -- including Jewish groups and South Florida Cubans -- that kept him competitive.
Crist, on the other hand, will likely face two strong candidates: Republican former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio and Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek, though others are running, as well, most recently billionaire Jeff Greene, a Democrat.
"A liberated Crist hits Senate trail on his own" and "Crist moving campaign headquarters to Tampa Bay area". See also "Crist offers preview of his campaign" and "Crist, Rubio take campaigns to TV shows".
"The real endgame"
The Tallahassee Democrat editors write that "the real endgame in state budgeting comes not this month, but next year. The federal stimulus dollars will run out and, if the economy hasn't dramatically improved, those re-elected lawmakers or newly relocated officials will be hit in the face at both legislative and executive levels with the mess of unfinished business, short-sightedness, unexpected consequences and ideological traps that regrettably Florida's new cobbled-together budget represents." "Our Opinion: Session aftermath". Related: "Crist undecided on calling Fla. special session" and "Crist undecided on Fla. special session".
"Want a guide to the political issues Republican legislators care about? Look at the issues they placed on the ballot." "GOP loads up November ballot".
"Potential onslaught of black ooze"
"Favorable weather gave Florida's Panhandle a reprieve, but it's likely brief as coastal communities braced for a potential onslaught of black ooze." "As oil blob triples in size, Florida fears nightmare". See also "Spill cutoff at least week away", "Gov. Crist expands state of emergency south to Sarasota", "Florida DEP official: 'The magnitude of this spill is daunting'" and "Oil spill already hurting Panhandle's tourist-based economy".
"Jolting a race that risked becoming an afterthought"
"Florida's Democratic Senate primary just got a billion times more interesting. The last-minute entry of a South Florida businessman with a huge fortune and a colorful past has jolted a race that risked becoming an afterthought." "New Democrat for Senate pumps up race".
"Resisting the Republican reflex"
Bill Cotterell: "If this year's budget rates maybe a C-minus for state employees, sadly, next year's outlook is not so good. Crist has been fairly respectful of state employees, resisting the Republican reflex to regard government itself as bad — and, therefore, to have no regard for the people who make state agencies work. He'll be gone next session, and the revenue outlook probably won't be a whole lot better." "A state-worker scorecard".
The Orlando Sentinel editors: "Florida legislators thought they had it rough balancing the state budget this year, yet they balked at proposals to rein in runaway costs in the state's Medicaid program. As a result, they — or their successors — may someday look back on this year's legislative session as a cakewalk." "Putting off Medicaid reform compounds pain in the future".
"The good bills they passed (no, really)".
Tom Blackburn: "John Thrasher stripped Gov. Crist's picture from the Republican Party's wall and said he will sell it on eBay. How's that for a grand gesture? It doesn't rank up there with breaking Gov. Crist's sword and ripping off his epaulets, but 21st-century insults are as 21st-century insults do."
By the way, who is John Thrasher? He is Jeb Bush's old golfing buddy, a sometime lobbyist and sometime legislator never elected by any constituency bigger than a state Senate district. Currently, for his purity enforcement (bullying) abilities, he is state Republican chairman. The man whose picture Sen. Thrasher insulted won statewide races for education commissioner, attorney general and governor, making Gov. Crist the most bodacious vote-getter the GOP ever fielded in Florida."Blackburn: Charlie banished to eBay: And other acts of the political purity police.".
Disorderly we stand. When John McCain's neighbors complain that he is a left-wing commie selling out the country to the socialists, you can't tell the players even with a scorecard.
"Florida attorneys file oil spill lawsuits".
"A change in attitude"
The Sun-Sentinel editors: "It's not like there is a silver bullet solution to the cuts facing teachers and school staffs. If only there were. What it's going to take, however, is a change in attitude, from the Legislature to the school district and all the way on down to the taxpayer. There has to be an attitude that education — and good teachers — are a priority. Every year." "Attitude change needed towards education".
"Republican women raffled off a pink rifle and took a few potshots at political foes Sunday in a feminized call to arms for Florida's 2010 political campaign."
The first annual "Real Women Shoot Back" picnic, political rally and target practice drew about 150 voters to the Coon Bottom Gun Club in the tall pine country of Gadsden County. Organizer Jenny Whitaker of the Tallahassee Republican Women's Club said the federation hoped to net about $2,500 to help GOP candidates and build the party."Republican women take aim on November ballot".
Caught in the act?
This, according to Sunshine State News: "No one will argue that sitting on the Senate floor during session can get a little boring, but looking at porn is probably not the best way to pass the time. On Thursday morning, Sunshine State News captured exclusive video of Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, looking at pornographic material on his state-issued computer on the Senate floor." "Sen. Mike Bennett Caught Looking at Porn on Senate Floor".
The Miami Herald editors: "Petty politics hurts PSC consumers". See also The Tampa Trib editorial board's "Senate unplugs credible PSC".