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Gary Fineout: Here’s one Democratic stronghold that could go for Charlie Crist

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From one of Florida’s best political reporters, Gary Fineout: It probably didn’t get much notice outside of Leon County, but Gov. Charlie Crist did something last week that may have given him an edge in at least one Democratic stronghold.

Crist on Friday vetoed a state retirement bill that would have reduced the interest earnings paid to state workers who enter a special kind of program known as the Deferred Retirement Option Program or DROP. This program is basically designed to offer additional retirement benefits to veteran state workers with the catch that most of them have to retire within 5 years of entering DROP. (The logic behind offering this benefit is that once veteran workers get close to retirement they have maxed out their benefits in the normal retirement system and have no reason to keep working. It’s attractive because workers can either get a lump-sum payment or can roll it over into other retirement accounts.)

The governor’s veto of this bill got a huge front-page headline in the Tallahassee Democrat on Saturday. This now marks the second year in a row that Crist has taken an action that spares state employees. Last year he vetoed a proposed pay cut for workers earning more than $45,000 a year.

Leon County is nowhere near the size of Democratic strongholds like Palm Beach or Broward counties. But it has more than 100,000 registered Democrats and it has more than a two-to-one registration edge over Republicans. There are also nearly 24,000 registered independents. In a divided three-way race the vote in this county could be crucial especially if the path for victory for an independent Crist is to siphon off votes from the winner of the Democratic primary between U.S Rep. Kendrick Meek and Jeff Greene. Continue reading here.

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.

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