Marijuana Legalization Could Help Charlie Crist
Around the State
Gov. Rick Scott’s hopes for a second term could vanish in a puff of smoke -- marijuana smoke.
This week media reports revealed that John Morgan, a prominent trial lawyer and Democratic power broker, will be leading the fight for a proposed state constitutional amendment on medical marijuana use that will be on the November ballot in 2014.
As usual, the mainstream media missed the point. “There's no obvious political upside for Morgan,” the Orlando Sentinel insisted.
There’s actually a great deal of political upside for Morgan.
Former Gov. Charlie Crist, who has moved from a Republican to having no party affiliation to now being a Democrat in the last three years, is the front-runner to win his new party’s nomination to challenge Scott in 2014. As anyone who drives across Florida’s highways can attest, Crist also works for Morgan’s law firm. You can’t miss Crist’s smiling, tan face on billboards scattered throughout the Sunshine State.
Marijuana legalization is an issue that rallies young voters. At the end of 2012, Quinnipiac University took a national poll that found 67 percent of voters under 30 favor legalization. Support for legalization fell dramatically with older groups.
Crist’s team -- from Morgan on down -- know what young voters can do in Florida. Look at the results from November 2012. Mitt Romney beat out Barack Obama with voters older than 30. Fifty-two percent of those voters backed Romney while 47 percent went for Obama.
But Obama carried Florida voters younger than 30 in a landslide. Obama took 66 percent of these voters in 2012, 5 percent better than his already strong showing in 2008. Romney took 32 percent, less than a third of Floridians under 30.
Obama’s strength with younger voters allowed him to edge Romney in Florida in November. You had better believe every political strategist and campaign operative in Florida took notes.
While the mainstream media rightly noted that Morgan’s desire to see medical marijuana legal in Florida was the result of his father’s illness, they simply missed the mark on how Charlie Crist, an employee of Morgan & Morgan, would benefit if this constitutional amendment is on the ballot in 2014. Certainly Morgan himself -- likely to be a principal donor to any Crist campaign -- did not.
Younger voters are pretty notorious for sitting out off-year elections. They will be out in force if there’s a marijuana legalization amendment on the ballot -- and Charlie Crist or whoever the Democrats nominate to take on Scott will reap the benefits.
Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis piece exclusively for Sunshine State News.