Charlie Crist Unveils Economic Plan as Rick Scott's Team Raises his Record
Around the State
Trying to reassure Florida voters that he can manage the economy and create jobs despite the unemployment rate rocketing up the last time he was in Tallahassee, former Gov. Charlie Crist unveiled his jobs plan on Tuesday as he continues his bid for the Democratic nomination to challenge Gov. Rick Scott in November.
At a media event in Fort Lauderdale, Crist launched “Fair Shot Florida,” his economic plan, on Tuesday.
“Today I'm proud to announce Fair Shot Florida, my plan to give all Floridians a chance at success,” Crist declared.
Crist’s plan includes expanding health care by taking federal funds for Medicaid expansion, increasing funding for education and raising the minimum wage. Having joined the Democrats back in December 2012 after holding three statewide offices as a Republican, Crist parroted President Barack Obama’s call to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.
Much of Crist’s economic plan takes aim at Scott, especially on education. Crist’s team vowed their candidate would raise funding per student if he wins in November.
“Charlie will undo the damage Rick Scott did,” Crist’s team claims in the economic plan. “He’ll raise per-student funding to $7,126.33, the level it was when he was governor.”
Republicans fired back by shining the spotlight on Crist’s economic record as governor. When Crist was sworn in as governor back in January 2007, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics had Florida’s unemployment rate at 3.5 percent, below the national average at that time. In December 2010, Crist’s last month as governor, the Bureau of Labor Statistics had Florida’s unemployment rate higher than 11 percent. Under Scott, in June 2014, the last month the Bureau of Labor Statistic has released data for, Florida’s unemployment rate was down to 6.2 percent.
Florida Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, the chairman of Scott's campaign, was quick to point out Crist's record. Thrasher also noted Crist tried to bail out of Florida and into national politics, trying to become U.S. Sen. John McCain’s, R-Ariz., running mate in the 2008 presidential election and running for the U.S. Senate instead of a second term in 2010.
"It’s hard to take Charlie Crist seriously on 'jobs and opportunity’ – because he hurt Florida’s economy so much as governor, he didn’t even want his own job,” Thrasher said on Tuesday. “Florida lost 832,000 jobs and unemployment tripled under Crist. He piled on tax hikes and tuition increases on struggling middle-class families, only to attempt to flee to Washington instead of staying to fix the mess he created. Charlie Crist had his shot at being governor – but he failed, then ran away.”
Thrasher wasn’t the only member of Scott’s team to pursue that line of attack. The Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) released a TV ad in Spanish on Tuesday on behalf of Scott’s re-election efforts. The ad features businessman Hector Marulanda who notes in the commercial that his Impel America Appliances in Doral added workers, doubling its staff, due to Scott’s economic policy.
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Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera contrasted Scott’s record with that of Crist.
“Under Gov. Scott, over 620,000 private-sector jobs have been created and small-business owners like Hector have had the opportunity to employ more Floridians,” Lopez-Cantera said on Tuesday. “When Florida lost 830,000 jobs and saw its unemployment rate triple, Charlie Crist ran away and left Floridians without jobs or opportunities. Crist’s record of failure is a great contrast with Gov. Scott’s record of success. Hector’s story is a testament that Gov. Scott’s policies are working for Floridians.”
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.