Charlie Crist's Gamble on Annette Taddeo Didn't Get Instant Payoff
Around the State
Charlie Crist hoped to get some positive attention by announcing Annette Taddeo as his running mate but his move was overshadowed by other events, some of which don’t help his campaign.
The front pages of newspapers across Florida came out Friday morning with stories on the Malaysia Airlines crash in the Ukraine and a judge’s decision to allow same-sex weddings in Monroe County. Crist plucking Taddeo got buried as a result.
Things didn’t improve on Friday as Rick Scott crowed about the unemployment rate going down in June with 36,900 private-sector jobs created. That type of news only underscores one of the best weapons in Scott’s arsenal. Under Scott, the unemployment rate has dropped 5 percent to 6.1 percent. That’s a stark contrast to Crist’s record when the unemployment rate rocketed to 11.1 percent and he decided to hightail it to Washington with his second try at winning a U.S. Senate seat.
Allison Tant didn’t help clear things up for Crist. Ignoring the fact that Nan Rich is still looming in the primary against Crist, Tant offered lavish praise for Taddeo. Needless to say, Rich and her supporters criticized Crist for acting as if he should be coroneted with the Democratic nomination, with no debates and selecting a running mate despite being a member of the party for barely a year and a half.
The Democrat bosses have spoken and they are behind Crist. In fact, a Democrat boss is Crist’s running mate. Taddeo’s only real political experience comes from leading the Miami-Dade Democrats since every time she’s sought elected office -- from Congress to a County Commission seat -- she’s flopped.
Having Taddeo on the ticket might help Crist with stalwart Democrats who are wary about his recent political changes -- from the GOP to no-party affiliation in 2010 before joining the Democrats in December 2012 -- and his constant changing of positions.
But Democrats have plenty of reasons to question the competence of their leaders across Florida. Tant backed Allie Braswell to challenge Jeff Atwater but, after a few days, it was found he had numerous financial problems. Braswell didn’t even last a week in the race and Tant had egg all over her face since she didn’t bother to vet him. Democrats couldn’t produce major candidates to take on Atwater and Adam Putnam. Despite David Jolly beating Alex Sink by 2 percent in a special election earlier in the year, Democrats couldn’t find a candidate to run against him in November. Democrats have no mathematical possibility of picking up the Florida Senate.
Nor do things look better for Democrats in Miami-Dade where Taddeo held the reins. No Democrats are running against Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart for congressional seats. Rene Garcia and Miguel Diaz de la Portilla are headed back to the Florida Senate with no opposition. At least most of the Miami-Dade Republicans in the Florida House have Democratic opponents, but only a handful of them are serious candidates. Not exactly a sterling record for Taddeo.
But Crist is lashing himself to the Democrat bosses despite their meager records. Regardless, announcing his running mate six weeks before the primary was a bit of a roll of the dice for Crist. While he didn’t get snake eyes, the bet doesn’t seem to have paid off for Crist, who tried to change the focus away from being caught in the polls by Scott but ended up off the front page.
Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.