PBA endorses Charlie Crist for governor, backs Republican incumbents in Cabinet races

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In a stunning blow to Gov. Rick Scott’s re-election effort, Florida’s largest law enforcement labor union announced they would endorse both Charlie Crist, the likely Democratic candidate for governor and Scott’s entire Cabinet, in November.

With a unanimous vote held Friday, union members made it the second election in a row where the often Republican-leaning PBA broke with tradition and endorsed a Democrat for governor. Four years ago, the union also voted against then-novice GOP candidate Rick Scott.

While that race did not break the way the PBA had hoped, the powerful statewide union still has not warmed to Scott.

The PBA Board of Directors, in addition to voting to endorse Scott’s likely Democratic opponent, also agreed to support the existing Republican incumbent Cabinet members — Pam Bondi, Jeff Atwater, and Adam Putnam — in their respective races on the ballot in November.

In supporting Bondi, the PBA noted her work with law enforcement in shutting down pill mills, as part of an overall crackdown on prescription drug abuse.

“On behalf of the PBA’s more than 24,000 law enforcement officers in Florida, we are committed to Attorney General Pam Bondi’s re-election efforts,” said Florida PBA Executive Director Matt Puckett. “General Bondi has been a diligent advocate on behalf of our members and initiatives, and we are proud to offer our strongest endorsement.”

When bondi took office in January 2011, Florida was home to 98 of the top 100 physicians dispensing Oxycodone nationwide. Today, none of the top 100 reside in Florida and deaths caused by prescription drug abuse dropped three years in a row. Bondi also championed the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, which cut down the instances of doctor shopping for prescription drugs.

“I am thrilled to have the endorsement of the Florida PBA,” said Bondi. “My team within the Office of Attorney General works hand in hand with Florida’s finest in protecting and serving Florida’s residents and tourists alike. Police officers, sheriff’s deputies, correctional officers, their families and support staff are all part of what makes the Sunshine State a great place to live, work, and raise a family.

“I am honored to work with such dedicated professionals and look forward to another four years of continued collaboration,” she added.

Established in 1972, the PBA is a proactive labor union representing Florida law enforcement officers in negotiations for wages, benefits and terms of employment. The PBA provides officers in more than 380 agencies statewide a voice in the day-to-day issues of better pay, benefits and working conditions.

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.