Tampa Tribune endorses Charlie Crist in Democratic primary

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Before facing off in November, Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Democratic challenger Charlie Crist each have to prevail in their respective primaries on Aug. 26.

Although Scott has only token opposition, Crist faces former state Senate Democratic leader Nan Rich, who the Tampa Tribune calls an “underfunded, yet credible” opponent.

Rich, 72, is a Broward resident and lifelong Democrat, with a solid reputation for supporting education and children’s issues. The 58-year-old Crist has been a Republican for most of his life, becoming an independent briefly in 2010 until switching to the Democratic Party in 2012.

In the face of assertions of “flip-flopping,” a valid claim, the Tribune also makes an alternative argument for Crist — the former governor will do whatever he feels is right, regardless of popularity.

As a true populist, Crist seeks to please Floridians, making him unlikely to launch daring, but unpopular, proposals outside of range of public sentiment.

There may have been numerous political about-faces; there is also a degree of consistency to Crist, as a member of the state Legislature and former education commissioner, attorney general and governor.

Crist called himself a “live-and-let live” Republican — a fiscal conservative that shied away from bold social issues. Tough on crime, Crist also worked to restore voting rights former felons. Generally, he has supported education, and environmental and consumer protection issues. These stances make Crist palatable to moderate Democrats.

For that, the Tribune recommends Crist for the Democratic primary for governor.

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.