Charlie Crist and Nan Rich Go Left for Primary Votes
Around the State
With less than six weeks to go, the two Democrats looking to topple Gov. Rick Scott are trying to reach out to primary voters by stressing their liberal credentials.
After winning three statewide offices as a Republican before leaving the GOP to run with no party affiliation for the U.S. Senate in 2010, former Gov. Charlie Crist is trying to appease his new party -- which he joined in December 2012 -- on the issues.
Despite seeking and winning office as a conservative, Crist insisted on Wednesday that Scott and the tea party had undermined his efforts to fight global warming.
“As governor, I put forward an ambitious agenda to tackle climate change, but Rick Scott and the tea party tore it down,” Crist maintained. “You deserve a governor who understands what's at stake.”
Crist also has been swinging away at Scott this week for rejecting federal funds for high-speed rail projects and trying to assure Democrats he is one of them despite his lengthy history with the Republicans.
The new Democrat is also paying homage to iconic figures of that party’s past. This week, Crist took a page from two of the leading Democrats of the first half of the 20th century -- President Franklin D. Roosevelt and longtime Gov. Al Smith, D-N.Y., who was the Democratic presidential candidate in 1928.
“I'm a happy warrior,” Crist proclaimed on Monday. “I will fight for the people of Florida -- and I'll speak the truth about how Rick Scott has hurt our home, but I'm not going to get in the mud like him. However, he's spent more than $20 million trashing me, you, and the values we share.
“So here's the truth: Scott's thrown all that cash at us because he knows that attacking us is the only way he can avoid answering the tough questions,” Crist continued. “It's time for him to explain why he left $2.4 billion on the table for high-speed rail, or why he's refusing to expand health care for almost 1 million people -- including 41,000 veterans. He owes us an explanation on why he won't take a stand on equal pay for women or on raising the minimum wage.”
Originally taken from a Wordsworth poem, the phrase “happy warrior” became linked with Smith when FDR nominated him for president in the tumultuous 1924 Democratic convention which, after 103 ballots, selected John W. Davis to go up against -- and get run over by -- Calvin Coolidge in the general election. FDR used the phrase again when he nominated Smith in 1928.
In the meantime, primary rival former Florida Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich looked to trip Crist up by questioning his liberal credentials.
“Last week former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist was asked about the two ultra-conservative justices he appointed to the Florida Supreme Court – Ricky Polston and Charles Canady,” Rich noted on Monday. “He said, ‘they’re doing a great job.’ Canady and Polston are doing great if you are a corporation that doesn’t want to get sued for hurting people. They're doing great if you are the NRA. They're doing great if you believe political operatives should control the congressional redistricting process, and that the voters shouldn’t have a say in legalizing medical marijuana. Court appointments matter, and so does electing the governor who makes those appointments. We can’t give Charlie Crist the chance to appoint four more ideological conservatives to the Supreme Court.”
Rich also continues to call out Crist, demanding a debate with her primary rival. On Sunday, Rich appeared at a Boca-Delray Democratic Club event honoring U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla.
“I was happy to speak to my fellow Democrats about my priorities as the next governor of Florida,” Rich noted. “Once again, my primary opponent Charlie Crist was not there. But, he can only avoid me for so long.”
Stressing her commitment to abortion rights, same-sex marriage and protecting the environment, Rich continues trying to get in front of primary voters as she looks to upset Crist in the primary.
Rich hit Indian River County on Tuesday night and insisted voters were demanding to know where Crist was.
“There were so many folks who appreciated that I took the time to come out to their community for the fourth time and they were asking, where's Charlie?” Rich noted on Wednesday.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.