Background: I didn’t vote for Charlie Crist for governor in 2006. As part of the Democratic movement then, I supported candidate Jim Davis with my vote and urged friends to follow suit. But as time wore on, I became enamored with a few Republicans for the way they governed, and one of those Republicans was indeed Charlie Crist.
While I strongly believe it’s a loss for our state to take Charlie out of the governor’s mansion, it is highly apparent how great a senator he’ll make. Simply put, he’s tough and he knows how to govern.
Don’t take my word for it! According to a recent Quinnipiac poll, Crist enjoys across the board thumbs up from Floridians. Voters gave him 68%, 68%, and 66% (Republicans, Independents, and Democrats respectively) approval ratings, and a surprisingly low number of both Republicans (25%) and Democrats (20%) gave him negative marks. Let me be clear. Those are HUGE ratings for a governor that inherited an economic slowdown, mounting bills, a housing crisis, and a massive revenue downturn.
Crist consistently enjoys such high approval ratings because he’s stood for Floridians from day one. After winning the election in 2006, Crist immediately moved forward to champion an across the board property tax cut for Floridians in the wake of escalating insurance premiums and skyrocketing property values. People were hurting and needed help to stay in their homes, and Charlie delivered by championing Amendment 1 to our state constitution.
As governor, Crist has had to prioritize in a way that no recent governor has. He has delicately balanced the state’s revenue shortfalls with the ever-growing needs of Florida’s citizens. He has consistently fought against raising our property and sales taxes, as well as avoiding a state income tax so prevalent in other states. He has found other ways to increase state revenues, including the Indian Gaming Compact (which was unfortunately struck down) and the recently approved cigarette tax. He has also been a champion for the state’s growing ethanol industry and agriculture at large, which is the backbone of our state’s exports.
On spending, Crist has advocated for more school spending and more infrastructure spending, two areas where Florida is severely lagging behind other states. In the classroom, Florida spends in the bottom quarter of states per pupil overall and second-worst in terms of dollars per student by citizen wealth. That’s appalling. Crist also fought against tuition increases at our public universities, which attract fresh young talent to our state while preventing mass exodus of our own high school graduates. The governor has also championed shovel-ready transportation projects including roadway enhancement, bridge construction, and rail transportation to connect our airports, seaports, and metropolitan areas.
For his style of governing, Charlie Crist has been the target of much criticism from his own party. Many claim that he is not conservative enough. The sharpest criticisms were lobbed at him for supporting the president’s stimulus bill, which conservatives including myself saw as pork-laiden waste of the people’s money which would ultimately yield more long-term damage than benefit.
There is no doubt however that the stimulus bill would have passed with or without the governor’s support. As our governor, it’s often one’s responsibility to rise above party politics to bring home the bacon for his people. By graciously supporting the president, Crist secured untold billions of dollars to plug the gap in our budget shortfalls. That means teachers got to keep their jobs, roads were built, tri-rail was kept on track, police stayed on the streets, and so forth. Like it or not, so-called stimulus money was being doled out. Let’s just be grateful that Florida got a big piece of the pie, thanks in part to the efforts of Governor Crist.
Let it be said that Crist has been the governor of all the people of Florida, not just conservatives. He knows how to prioritize and balance realities with goals. He has been the champion of the homeowner, the student, the worker, the farmer, and the consumer. He’s a tough voice for progress and accountability, and a compassionate advocate for the people of Florida. He’s got both the rhetoric and the resume, and he means what he says.
As governor, Crist would have won my vote for re-election hands down. Now, I’m proud to pledge my support for his next campaign. Washington severely lacks the caliber of leadership that Crist will bring with him. The people of this great state would do well for themselves to elect Charlie Crist as the next senator from the state of Florida. He’s earned our confidence, and he’ll make us proud.
Please join me to support Charlie Crist for Senate.