Columns

10-20-Life and Charlie

By: Nancy Smith | Posted: July 11, 2014 3:55 AM
I Beg to Differ

Nan Rich won one Thursday. She didn't even have to be in the Biltmore Hotel's Granada Room. She didn't have to touch a microphone. She won because Charlie Crist addressed the Florida media brain trust unobstructed. In all his egotistical glory. His only opposition -- his only enemy -- was himself.

What a rude awakening Crist must have given many in the room, even the ones who scribbled the editorial endorsements they gave him in 2006. Even the ones who will never admit it publicly.

Given the kind of close attention smart, discerning editors and publishers can give a one-candidate forum, it was impossible for Crist to hide his lack of commitment, his insincerity, or -- in the case of his appearance at the Florida Press Association/Florida Society of News Editors event -- his ignorance of a major Florida court case. A case prominent in the news for some months now.

That's what I found the most telling moment of the day: When panelist Brendan Farrington of the Associated Press mentioned the Ronald Williams case to him, Crist -- former attorney general of Florida -- had never heard of it.

Ronald Williams, 26 at the time of the crime in 2010, was sentenced to 80 years in prison for firing a gun in the air to stop four gay men from "whistling and ogling" him from a neighbor’s Riviera Beach home. Nobody was injured. The sentence was based on the 10-20-Life law, enacted in 1999. He was convicted of four aggravated assault charges, each carrying a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years, and the terms are running consecutively.

The case was heard in the Florida Supreme Court in June. Big news six weeks ago. Williams' attorney believes the four terms should run concurrently, giving his client a 20-year sentence. If the ruling goes against Williams, he likely will die in prison. Does the law need changing, was the question.

Well, OK, Crist can't know everything about every issue at play in the state. But here's a man who once held the highest law enforcement office in Florida. Not only that, Crist made his bones on tough-on-crime measures, on muscling up criminal law and punishment in this state. Bills he pushed for in the Senate in the 1990s were precursors of the 10-20-Life law. They were its inspiration.

Wouldn't those things alone make him curious enough to follow the consequences of such a controversial law? Especially now, as a Democrat? 

After Farrington explained the case, Crist knitted his eyebrows. He was sympathetic and somber. “Just from the facts you’ve presented to me, it doesn’t sound fair and it doesn’t sound equitable,” he told the AP Tallahassee correspondent.

Now it's 10-20-Life, another ghost from his conservative past Crist must expel. No wonder he doesn't follow such criminal cases in the news. 

In his March 4, 2008, State of the State address, then-Gov. Crist said this:

"In the Preamble to the Constitution, one of the primary roles of government is defined as ensuring domestic tranquility, which means keeping our people safe. We are fulfilling this responsibility with tougher laws and increased enforcement along with crime prevention strategies within the criminal justice system. Effective legislation such as Stop Turning Out Prisoners and 10-20-Life is making an impact on the crime rate, while the Anti-Murder Act will prevent future tragedies. And we must also work together to address crime in our state, including gang activity."

It's obvious, isn't it? It's getting increasingly difficult for Crist to pull off this steady stream of policy switcheroos. Yes, he's a good politician, but he's not a deep thinker. The longer he goes on, the more often he'll be caught like a deer in headlights. Unable to ad-lib his way out of now-fractured positions he once claimed to be proud of.

It's been said before: Charlie Crist didn't just change parties. Many politicians have changed parties over the years including Ronald Reagan, who once was a Democrat, and Hillary Clinton, who volunteered for Barry Goldwater's presidential campaign.

But Crist wasn't exactly an Arlen Specter or Lincoln Chaffee Republican-to-Democrat switcher. Both those men had big-government, anti-gun, pro-choice beliefs that always aligned with the opposing party long before their switches. And while their switches were equally political, little changed in their ideology.

For Crist, everything changed. Abortion, marriage rights, vouchers, gun laws, Obamacare and, yes, criminal justice.

How he's going to keep pulling it all off with that conveniently bad memory of his and keep looking like governor material this second time around is beyond me.



Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com or at 228-282-2423. 


Comments (20)

Melody Heilmann
12:45AM JUL 22ND 2014
If any Democrat is ignorant enough to vote for Charlie & he somehow wins the primary, they can COUNT on 4 more yrs of Rick Scott, the most hated Gov in the USA. Why didn't Crist run for a 2nd term when he was Governor? Because he was hoping Sen John McCain would choose him For VP running mate. McCain chose Palin instead, yeah Charlie cares so much about Florida, HA! He cares only about himself, Nan Rich, The TRUE Dem has my vote!
Melody Heilmann
12:45AM JUL 22ND 2014
If any Democrat is ignorant enough to vote for Charlie & he somehow wins the primary, they can COUNT on 4 more yrs of Rick Scott, the most hated Gov in the USA. Why didn't Crist run for a 2nd term when he was Governor? Because he was hoping Sen John McCain would choose him For VP running mate. McCain chose Palin instead, yeah Charlie cares so much about Florida, HA! He cares only about himself, Nan Rich, The TRUE Dem has my vote!
Melody Heilmann
12:45AM JUL 22ND 2014
If any Democrat is ignorant enough to vote for Charlie & he somehow wins the primary, they can COUNT on 4 more yrs of Rick Scott, the most hated Gov in the USA. Why didn't Crist run for a 2nd term when he was Governor? Because he was hoping Sen John McCain would choose him For VP running mate. McCain chose Palin instead, yeah Charlie cares so much about Florida, HA! He cares only about himself, Nan Rich, The TRUE Dem has my vote!
JOE KREPS
9:47PM JUL 11TH 2014
Diane are you a republican or a payed operative of Charlie's. Did you vote for Charlie in 2010 or 2006?
Bob
9:04PM JUL 11TH 2014
I've been a registered Republican for some time. Voted for Charlie Crist in the past and voted for Rick Scott. Defame me for either one but this time around I'm saying no and voting for Adrian Wyllie.
Brian Maday
9:35AM JUL 11TH 2014
The FANTASTIC MORGANS took Charlie in - and be BIG DEM Supporters, easily converted him. It genuinely seems that his mind sways back and forth on exactly WHERE he stands - on EVERYTHING!
Brian Maday
9:35AM JUL 11TH 2014
The FANTASTIC MORGANS took Charlie in - and be BIG DEM Supporters, easily converted him. It genuinely seems that his mind sways back and forth on exactly WHERE he stands - on EVERYTHING!
Diane
9:58AM JUL 11TH 2014
Cripes! People change!! Charlie is not swaying back and forth on his positions, Remember in the 60s and 70s how people started becoming aware, waking up to the injustices to blacks and women? Charlie's values have grown as he became aware of injustices within the conservative movement. He got fed up with the radicalism of the Republican party and decided Democratic values were a better fit. Not unlike a whole lot of former Republicans in Florida and across the country who have converted to Dem or Independent.
Bill
1:36PM JUL 11TH 2014
People change; a snake-oil salesman with delusions of fulfilling his ordained calling, like Wind Sock Charlie, do not.
Diane
10:00AM JUL 11TH 2014
As proof of the movement away from Republicans, a black guy won a 2nd term as president in spite of all the lies and millions of secret money against him.
Tyler
1:39PM JUL 11TH 2014
I just laugh when people try to sell me on this Charlie change. The man fought for 7 YEARS for the gay adoption ban... and now he's for it, just like that. You know who he fought ?? NAN RICH!! people really need to do their homework. We have only 1 TRUE DEMOCRAT in this race!! Charlie has always sold to the highest bidder.. he will always be the same Charlie he was when he was named "The harshest Governor on Prisonner's Rights."
Bill
1:32PM JUL 11TH 2014
So much for that "racist nation" tripe the progs incessantly repeat.
Diane
9:31AM JUL 11TH 2014
Nancy has an interesting faux journalism approach. Maybe trained at Fox Noise?

Be serious. There was a wave of fighting crime with stiff sentences sweeping the country.

How conveniently to omit, because it does not fit in with her false narrative, that Crist restored rights to over 30,000 EX-felons. That was a hallmark in justice, especially considering that under Scott the parole commission is currently hearing restoration applications as far back as 2004.
Frank
9:31AM JUL 11TH 2014
Yes, yes, we all know everyone on this site is gullible enough to believe you're actually supporting Nan Rich, and not just as a weaker opponent against your hero, Rick Scott. . . .

Pathetic . . . . .
Tom Bryson
9:45AM JUL 11TH 2014
The "You're either for us or you're agin us" proclamation of George W. Bush sound more like the Republican politics of Rick Scott than any Democrat I know.
Nick Guerrero
9:13AM JUL 11TH 2014
Not if we ge Nan Rich as the Denkcratic candidate!! She is the alternative and the true democrat! Charlie cannot win against Scott; the Republicans will tear him apart. Look at how he's been falling apart lately and it has just been from scrutiny from democrats. How would he fare with republicans? He cant. Stand with Nan!
Diane
9:49AM JUL 11TH 2014
Are you not keeping up with the polls?

Date, Sample, MoE, Spread

RCP Average 4/14 - 7/2 -- -- 43.8 41.8 Crist +2.0
SurveyUSA 6/30 - 7/2 558 LV 4.2 43 45 Scott +2
PPP (D) 6/6 - 6/9 672 RV 3.8 42 42 Tie
Quinnipiac 4/23 - 4/28 1413 RV 2.6 48 38 Crist +10
Rasmussen Reports 4/21 - 4/22 750 LV 4.0 45 39 Crist +6
Mason-Dixon* 4/15 - 4/22 700 LV 3.8 42 42 Tie
Magellan Strategies (R) 4/14 - 4/15 868 LV 3.3 43 45 Scott +2

Rich - In the Survey USA poll, she shares 9% with all other candidates. Not a snowball's chance in hell.
David
1:46PM JUL 11TH 2014
The poll didn't include Nan Rich, first of all. And secondly, the only polls that do count are the most recent ones. Charlie is imploding, which is no surprise. Democrats are slowly beginning to wake up!!
Tom Bryson
10:27AM JUL 11TH 2014
Let's be fair, Nan Rich was not included in the poll. The poll gave respondents a choice between Rick Scott, Charlie Crist and some other candidate. 7% went to other candidates and 5% where undecided. The only way to fairly make a judgment regarding Senator Rich would be if you offered respondents a choice between Senator Rich and Rick Scott. In other words the poll tells us nothing about how many votes Charlie got just because he wasn't Rick or the "anyone but Rick" vote. Consider a poll between Alexis Pinocchio and Rick Scott. I bet Alexis would poll much better than the 12% that was left on the table.
Tom Bryson
7:03AM JUL 11TH 2014
He won't pull it off and just as he assured Marco Rubio's win for the senate by becoming an independent, he assures Rick Scott's reelection by becoming a Democrat. Charlie two, Democrats zero.

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