Blogger Ben Kirby welcomes Charlie Crist to Democratic fold, but still has tough questions for him

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Progressive blogger Benjamin Kirby of the Spencerian understands he should welcome Charlie Crist to the Democratic Party, but that doesn’t mean he’s given up asking tough questions of the former Republican governor. Cross-posted from Kirby’s blog:

I hope we Democrats can maintain just a touch of skepticism, even as we, in true Southern form, welcome Governor Crist to the Party.

Because there’s a difference between filling out the form and doing the work.

And Charlie Crist has some work to do.

Hey, I get it:

He has been a strong supporter of higher pay for teachers. He works for a leading trial lawyer. He was a leading advocate for civil rights as governor and attorney general. And though he describes himself as “pro-life,” his voting record in the legislature was mostly in favor of abortion rights. He has long been more of a populist than a pro-big business Republican.

[snip]

The Obama administration has long had a strong relationship with Crist, who was one of the few high-profile Republicans to enthusiastically endorse the $700-billion stimulus package that he said helped keep Florida teachers and emergency workers employed and could have funded a high speed rail initiative in Florida had not Gov. Scott rejected the money.

Frankly, there could be worse Democrats than Charlie Crist.  There have been worse Democrats than Charlie Crist.

That said, he’s been just a mess on some critically important issues.  The Amendment 1 tax cap here in Florida has been particularly devastating in a state already hit hard by the housing bust and recession.  Then-Governor Crist was the Amendment 1 champion.  With our beaches being not only an environmental treasure, but the economic life-blood for many Floridians, off-shore drilling is an understandably hot topic — Charlie Crist has flipped and flopped on it.  I’m glad the Obama folks like him, but he was back and forth on health reform, too.  Crist also changed his position on gay marriage.

He’ll have to answer for those things.  He must know that.

And when the faithful — those good Democrats who continue to work so hard — ask those questions, he must know, too, that if he wants to be welcomed with open arms, the answers better be right.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.