Politics

Charlie Crist, Nan Rich Take Different Paths in Lead-up to Primary

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: August 15, 2014 3:55 AM
Charlie Crist and Nan Rich

Charlie Crist and Nan Rich

With a week and a half left in the primary, the two candidates battling for the Democratic nomination to challenge Gov. Rick Scott are embracing different strategies as they try to round up last-minute support. 

Despite only joining the Democrats in December 2012 after spending most of his political life as a Republican, former Gov. Charlie Crist continues to ignore former Florida Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich in the primary. Polls show Crist is far ahead of Rich and, despite just joining the party, he has refused to debate her.

Crist has kept his fire squarely on Scott in recent days, starting a tour of the Sunshine State on Wednesday to hit the governor on education.

“We’re launching a three-day school bus tour across Florida to talk to parents, students, teachers, and administrators about how Rick Scott’s $1.3 billion cut to education -- including $20 million to pre-K -- has hurt our schools,” Crist noted,  promising “to invest in education by restoring those cuts and returning per-student funding to the same record levels as when I was governor.”

Crist has also hit Scott’s record in the private sector in recent days. But while Crist continues to go after Scott, Rich is firing away at her fellow Democrat as she tries to catch him in the primary.

“This week Charlie Crist told the Palm Beach Post that he hasn't changed but Florida needs a change,” Rich told supporters on Wednesday. “When Charlie Crist was our Republican governor, he signed every bill the NRA wanted and vetoed the ones they didn't. He appointed the two most conservative members of the Florida Supreme Court, and he expanded the voucher program that gives millions in tax breaks to big corporations and takes millions out of public schools. Charlie Crist sure is the same – the same as Rick Scott.”

Rich has continued to contrast her time in office with Crist’s record, noting she has backed same-sex marriage and abortion while the former Republican has been on both sides of the issues. Insisting Crist’s refusal to debate her was “beyond arrogant and disrespectful to Democratic primary voters,” Rich has also hit the former governor on that front as well.

On the Republican side, Scott and the GOP’s fire has mostly been focused on Crist. With the former governor in Tampa on Thursday to hit Scott on education, the GOP called on three state legislators -- Sen. John Legg, R-Lutz, the chairman of the Senate Education Committee, Rep. Neil Combee, R-Auburndale, and Rep. Jake Raburn, R-Valrico -- to attack Crist.

“Charlie Crist’s desperate attempt to mislead Florida voters about Gov. Scott’s record can only mean one thing – he doesn’t want to talk about his own record,” Legg and the two state representatives said in a joint statement. “Charlie Crist was a disaster for Florida’s education system, cutting state funding to schools by over $1 billion and raising tuition on Florida’s students. Gov. Scott has a strong record of helping our students, increasing educational opportunities, giving teachers raises, and creating pathways to success.”



Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or follow him on Twitter: @KevinDerbySSN

Comments (1)

Tom Bryson
6:58AM AUG 15TH 2014
Charlie Crist has given Democrats reasons to question his loyalty, sincerity and credibility.

Marco Rubio was no cinch to win that Senate seat in 2010. If left to play by themselves no telling how Marco, having never run outside his own house district in Hialeah might have fared against Kendrick who had never run outside his own US Congressional district in Miami. But then comes Charlie, seriously if not fatally wounded by his embrace of Obama and the dreaded stimulus package and in the middle of the great Tea Party surge, challenges Marco in the primary. What a nice gift for Marco. He prevails and with the Republican base solidly behind him and now a household name, holding the Republican seat is far more likely. But as we know Charlie isn't done and in spite of having zero chance at success, he famously makes a bid as an Independent and splits the Democratic base. Cancel the election and give a warm welcome to Senator Rubio and a big thanks to Charlie for making the whole thing possible.

Since early in Rick Scott's first term, low approval ratings along with tons of baggage have made his reelection a challenge for Republicans. However, having an opponent with similar approval and tons of baggage coupled with Scott's large money advantage would likely give the Governor his second term. Once again it's Charlie to the rescue. For Republicans, Charlie is the gift that keeps on giving. For Democrats, Charlie is a disaster.

Democrats can win if the contest is about values, principals and policies, but if Charlie is their nominee, it will be Rick versus Charlie in the mud ring. Rick has the money and Charlie cannot credibly promote progressive values. Charlie will lose. Does the second wife need to drown before Democrats learn to promote their own candidates?

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