Primaries Ahead, But No Cease-Fire Between Rick Scott and Charlie Crist
Around the State
With a month to go until the primaries, the two leading candidates in Florida’s gubernatorial election -- Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist -- are concentrating their firepower on each other as if it were the general election.
The Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) released a digital ad on Wednesday which has Crist debating himself. The ad showcases Crist, the favorite to win the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in next month’s primary despite spending most of his political life in the GOP, taking both sides of positions on Obamacare, taxes, the Cuba embargo, same-sex marriage and other issues.
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“Charlie Crist is a skilled debater – that happens when you debate yourself every day because you’ve been on both sides of every issue,” said RPOF Chairwoman Leslie Dougher on Wednesday before calling on Crist to debate his primary opponent. “So why not debate Sen. Nan Rich? What does he have to hide? He’s had more than enough practice.”
But the former governor’s team fired back, sending his running mate Annette Taddeo out to hit Scott and showcase Crist’s proposed actions on his first day in office. Taddeo called out a statement produced by Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, and the legislative leadership expressing their dismay that Crist plans to rely on executive orders and cutting out the Legislature to push his agenda.
Thrasher joined up with the state legislative leadership Tuesday to weigh in against Crist’s proposal to use executive orders and, once again, compared the former governor to Obama. Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Destin, incoming Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, and incoming House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, joined Thrasher in issuing a joint statement.
“Charlie Crist says he is a ‘man of the people’ but his actions don’t match his rhetoric,” the legislators said. “Crist is lifting a dangerous page from President Obama’s playbook, saying he will do an end-run around the people’s elected representatives and single-handedly mandate policies through executive order. Such declarations should give Floridians great concern.
“Charlie Crist is not above the Constitution and the law,” the legislators added. “Florida needs a governor who will work with the Legislature and not force his personal agenda on Floridians with the stroke of a pen.”
Taddeo focused on Crist’s proposal to ensure women state contractors make the same as their male counterparts and fired back on the legislative leaders.
“Five men from Rick Scott's campaign have deemed equal pay for women unacceptable,” Taddeo insisted on Wednesday. “That's what they called the First Day of Fairness -- Charlie's plan to make Florida a better, more fair place, from day one. What's unacceptable is their refusal to fight for opportunity for all Floridians, not just the ones at the top.”
Despite Crist leaving the GOP and attacking it on the way out and her own jabs at the incoming legislative leadership, Taddeo -- who has never held elected office and whose chief political prominence has come from being the boss of the Miami-Dade Democrats -- insisted they would work with the Republicans if elected.
“The First Day of Fairness is just the beginning,” Taddeo insisted. “Charlie will work with leaders from both parties to expand health care to all Floridians, restore all funding to education, and create jobs for middle-class families. What happens on day one sets the tone for the rest of his term. So Charlie won't let Scott's camp stop him from doing whatever good he can for Floridians.”
Even as Taddeo insisted Crist would reach out to Republicans, he was going on the attack against Scott.
“A breast cancer victim is struggling to pay for her treatment because Rick Scott refuses to expand Medicaid,” Crist maintained on Wednesday. “This just shouldn't happen in Florida -- I'll fight to expand health care to everyone who needs it.”
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.