The arrival of Charlie Crist in the Democratic primary underscores how things have shifted in this state. The growling and snapping from the Republican Party underscores that Crist is the one they fear.
Those screams of anger and threats of retribution must comfort Charlie that he’s going to win and the Democrats must be feeling that things might go their way this time. Senator Nan Rich was never savaged this way because Republicans assessed her as a pleasant minor league politico who couldn’t win. She had not excited the Democratic faithful and she didn’t worry them. If the Democrats hope to win the governorship, Crist is the answer.
Crist is what used to be a Republican; less government, rather than more, not a crusader for social issues. He doesn’t think government is the answer to everything, but he does believe that government is useful. It’s “us,” not “them.” He can probably work with a Republican-dominated legislature; essentially he’s a Republican. He can get things done and he isn’t going to engage in crackpot ideas like voter purges or having a fire sale on endangered state land. I doubt he’ll consider the DEP a customer service department. As a Republican at heart, he’ll be friendly to business and good for business in Florida, but he won’t be privatizing every government function to please and enrich his supporters.
Charlie Crist is that unloved creature, a moderate. The GOP has travelled so far down the road to cuckoo-town that Crist is the main event for Democrats. He was once perceived as a right-wing GOP politician but time and maturity tends to cure ambitious politicians of their weirder ideas. If you are serious you look for the middle. Charlie Crist found it. But for the Tea Party, he would be United States Senator Crist, the right-center match for the left-center Bill Nelson. Seldom would you find them seriously divided for the simple reason that the same middle-road constituency elected them both.
What of Rick Scott? Scott has managed to maintain the glowing dislike of a sizeable portion of the electorate. Scott is unavailable and stiff, lacking the charm and personal skills of Crist. Crist seems to enjoy himself, courts the media and is always at ease. Scott’s machine will feed Crist through the grinder, no allegation will remain unspoken, no salacious rumor unspread. Crist expects it; it will come as no surprise.
Scott’s rumored $100 million war-chest is a stack of attack ads. There will be a veritable mud-storm rained down upon Crist, but the nastier it gets the less effective it will be. Eventually the GOP effort to tar Crist will backfire and Scott’s already heavy negatives will increase as the electorate finds less to like and becomes steadily more disgusted. The wags have already noted that, with this development, Scott is truly The Anti-Crist. Some people have always felt there’s an “h” missing.
The Beatles are right: Money Can’t Buy You Love. That’s Scott’s problem; no love.