With all they know, Sun Sentinel says Charlie Crist still best to replace Rick Scott

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Charlie Crist may be a Republican turned independent turned Democrat, who has been both for and against the Affordable Care Act, reproductive rights, and the 2009 economic stimulus (sort of).

When times were tough and Washington looked enticing, he bolted.

Nevertheless, the South Florida Sun Sentinel says Crist is the better choice for governor than incumbent Rick Scott.

Scott is desperately trying to keep the conversation focused on the fact that when he took office, Florida’s unemployment rate was 12 percent and is now at 6.3 percent.

Unemployment numbers are something Scott is taking full credit for while giving Crist full blame for those jobs lost in the previous four years.

Scott has aggressively recruited for the state on the phone and foreign trade missions. He also secured money for Florida’s ports and beaches.

Tourism is also at record levels, notes the Sun Sentinel.

The full record, upon closer examination, shows Scott’s credit for job gains is undue, and he often substitutes political ideology for a practical policy.

Scott took office in January 2011, after the official end of the Great Recession. Presidents may exert control over national economics, but governors have (very) limited sway over the state’s economy.

After both the real estate crash and financial crisis, Florida was bleeding jobs, but not because of Crist. For the same reason, Florida’s recovery paralleled that of the nation, even though the state’s 6.3 percent unemployment rate sits slightly higher than the national average, now at 5.9 percent.

Expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act would significantly benefit Florida; that is why hospitals and doctors have pushed for it. Nearly a million people would have access to health care so they would not need to rely on emergency rooms, which do not provide services to stay healthy.

Florida ranks among the highest in the nation in numbers of medically uninsured, and without the thousands of new sign-ups under the ACE, would rank even higher.

Four million who remain uninsured hurts Florida’s economy, but Scott continues to refuse federal assistance for executing the health care law, without offering an alternative.

Among the other missed opportunities to help the economy are a first-rate education system a top priority for a competitive labor force. More than simply affordable, Florida degrees must give employers assurances that graduates have the right tools for success.

Crist may have signed legislation allowing tuition increases, but only at the insistence of business leaders concerned about higher education after years of legislative underfunding. Scott aggravated the financial pinch by approving Florida Polytechnic, an unneeded new university. Then in 2012, he cut yet another $300 million from university budgets.

Scott continues to hide both his political and personal business from the public, says the Sun Sentinel, despite promises of transparency and open access to emails. Scott’s transition team claimed meetings held in public buildings were secret. Staffers repeatedly use personal emails to perform state business. As the Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times recently reported, Scott’s federal financial filings reveal him as much wealthier than stated on financial disclosure forms, with a supposed blind trust that could allow him to profit from decisions made as governor.

For all of Crist’s political twists during his unsuccessful Senate bid, the Sun Sentinel notes that his record as attorney general and governor demonstrates less of a partisan ideology and more interest for the average Floridian.

In one ad, Scott warns Floridians about “turning back the clock” to a time when Florida was losing jobs under Crist. In reality, Scott turned back Florida to when special interests ruled. It may have been good for utilities, insurance companies and companies getting incentives, but not for everyone else.

The gubernatorial campaign is than just about unemployment. With all that the Sun Sentinel knows about Crist, the know enough about Scott to say that Crist is who should replace him.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.