Charlie Crist Won’t Be the Democratic Gubernatorial Nominee
Around the State
Much has been written lately about whether U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson will jump into the governor’s race. While I’ve thought for a long time that he would not do so, I’ve recently changed my mind because of comments he's made about the race.
His staff has indicated the senator would consider jumping in if Charlie Crist stumbles in the Democratic primary. Well, he’s going to stumble because there's just so much the GOP has on Charlie.
What the senator really means, in my humble opinion, is that he is prepared to jump into the race in order to save the Democratic Party.
So what do I mean by “save"? I mean that the vast majority of Democratic-elected officials around the state don’t want Charlie at the top of the ticket because they believe that ultimately he will drag them all down. And in all likelihood, he will.
Just recently, Gov. Rick Scott’s own pollster, Tony Fabrizio, released polling showing that the governor is only 4 points behind Charlie. Some pundits wondered why a pollster would want to show his incumbent candidate behind, especially this early.
Well, the answer is real easy. Charlie is beloved by the press, to the point that every newspaper will endorse him, most right now. Not so much because they love Charlie – though almost all do – but because they all loathe the governor.
So, for an incumbent governor, who will not get any love from any newspaper in Florida, to only be behind at this juncture by 4 points is incredible news. And that’s before the governor even spends $10 million to slam him!
No, the writing is already on the wall. The Democratic-elected officials are seeing blood everywhere and it has caused them to second-guess what the liberals are doing in promoting Charlie.
Bill Nelson will win the primary against Charlie, although as I have written before, I’m not sure Charlie will even stay in the fight. Frankly, he’d rather step back and try to work out a deal that has been much ballyhooed: when Nelson wins, Charlie gets the Senate seat.
But Sen. Nelson can’t do that because of the very reason he got into the primary to begin with. He’s stepping in to save the party from Charlie. He, and party leadership, can’t afford to have Charlie as the head of the Democratic Party, regardless of what President Obama wants.
In fact, the idea that the president wants him only puts an anchor around Charlie’s neck. The president is so unpopular here and Floridians across the board dislike Obamacare so much that despite the president helping significantly to raise dollars for Charlie’s campaign, and a few key presidential visits to certain parts of some Florida cities, he will otherwise be a huge liability.
Furthermore, the last thing that we, as Floridians. should want to do is send Charlie to Washington, D.C., because that’s exactly where he wanted to go to begin with. You don’t think Charlie will be content to just be governor, do you? And please don’t try to convince me that he will want to spend two terms in Tallahassee; he was barely here when he was governor.
No, Bill Nelson will jump in because the party’s only chance of having a competitive campaign against this governor is if the senator is the nominee. Otherwise, it will just be a host of television commercials with Charlie talking when he was a Republican, contrasted to what Charlie is saying now that he’s a supposed Democrat.
The Republicans won’t have to say anything; they’ll just let Charlie do the talking against himself.
Truth be told, most people expect politicians to “evolve” over time on some issues. But you can’t evolve on every issue, because then by definition that means you’re a serial flip-flopper, and few folks want that kind of politician leading their state.
Bill Nelson is the Democrats' best -- no, their only -- hope of having a fighting chance to beat this incumbent. If he doesn’t get into the race, all the money in the world isn’t going to make Charlie a principled politician.
Like the governor or not, and I certainly like him, he does what he says he will do, to the steadfast angst of his detractors. Florida’s economy is growing, jobs are coming here, state debt is down significantly, college tuition costs have become level, especially at Florida colleges, and the budget is in the black again.
Put me down for a Bill Nelson versus Rick Scott general election fight in November of 2014.
Barney Bishop, former CEO of Associated Industries of Florida, who recently created his third company, is an outspoken, lifelong Democrat with a strong fiscally conservative streak. He believes that government is not the answer to our problems, that civil discourse is obligatory, that compromising on details will not undercut one’s core beliefs, and that a resilient, robust private sector is the elixir needed for a true democracy to grow and survive.