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Mike Thomas: Charlie Crist puts himself first in Florida’s teacher merit-pay saga

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From Mike Thomas: The architects of teacher merit pay made a fatal mistake.

They took Charlie Crist at his word.

He had long supported merit pay. His top policy staffer endorsed the bill in legislative meetings. Crist said it would “build on education reforms that have earned Florida great improvements in academic rankings.”

But the governor never has been bound by past words or deeds, by the details of policy or the consequences of actions.

He is perpetually fluid, always calculating what is in his best political interests.

And this bill was not.

The teachers who think Charlie is their champion simply had the fortune of being in the right place at the right time.

Before Crist vetoed the bill, a Quinnipiac Poll showed him 23 points behind Marco Rubio in the Republican primary. It also showed him beating Rubio by two points in the general election if he ran as an independent.

The difference is that the primary would be decided by the conservative Republican base while the general election would be decided by everybody.

The merit pay bill was backed by conservatives. Signing it wouldn’t woo many of them away from Rubio.

But vetoing it would come as close to making everybody happy as anything Charlie could do this year. It was a burning bush telling Charlie to run as an independent.

So Crist dragged out the suspense, made sure every teacher knew that his or her fate rested with him. And then he killed the bill on live TV, and proceeded to a pep rally to celebrate.

I don’t see how he has a Republican future. 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,,, 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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