As a good Catholic, I suppose it’s time I made a confession. In the last thirteen years as a resident of Florida, Tampa to be specific I have voted not less than five times for Charlie Crist. Twice in primaries and three times in general elections.
You see, being a native a Philadelphia and a proud consservative, I had become convinced by experience that electability was of the highest priority. In a city where Republicans had not won a head to head city wide election since 1969 it was a simple compromise. That one was race was for Traffic Court, no less.
The concerns of electability for a Philadelphia Conservative should have submitted to a more pleasing electoral reality in my adopted home of Florida. Sadly, old habits died hard. In 1998, a then obscure State Senator from Pinellas County named Charlie Crist was the Republican nominee running against Senator Bob Graham. A suicide mission to be sure. If ever there was a DEmocrat that I could have “conceivably” voted for, Bob Graham was just that, but nonetheless I voted for the unknown Mr. Crist who lost 2-1 as I knew he would. THat vote cast me as an enabler of political suicide.
Then came 2002. Charlie Crist ran as the unendorsed candidate for State Attorney General and easily won the Republican Primary. I gladly voted for him in his big primary victory and promptly again in the general election.
In 2006, instead of running for re election as state Attorney General, he decided to run for the open Governor’s seat. He was unendorsed and there were more conservative primary opponents, but my reflexive electability issues cast its vote in the primary which he easily won. Once again, I promptly voted for him in the general election.
Charlie Crist has been the most popular Florida governor and he could have easily been re elected, but our most opportunistic chief executive decided instead to run for the United States Senate. At first, I thought it was great. With Crist running we would be assured of holding onto the seat. A no brainer.
I had never heard of Marco Rubio and only began to notice as he was progressively gaining in polls with Crist. As I learned more, the more I was impressed. Genuine conservative with passion and conviction. I made up my mind that this time I was not going to vote for Charlie Crist, but Marco Rubio. I still liked Charlie, but had come to prefer Rubio as a genuine budget hawk at a time when our nation needs fiscal attentiveness.
Charlie Crist began with a lead of over thirty points and Rubio was at eight percent. In recent months that has been reversed and Crist is now down by approximately thirty points to Mr. Rubio. Charlie Crist had coasted, assuming he was unassailable. His downfall had more to do with Rubio’s effectively making a case that he rather than Crist is what Florida needs in the Senate.
Charlie Crist is where he is today, headed towards political oblivion precisely because he took the voters for granted. He took his place in the United States Senate in his own mind before the people of this state extended to him such a privelege at the ballot box. He seemed to feel that he was entitled to be a Senator, by a mere willingness to serve. By such presumption, we find his character revealed. Such a presumption clearly demonstrates his desire to serve his ego rather than the interests of the public.
Charlie Crist is going to announce he’ll run as an independent for the United States Senate and drop out of the Republican Primary. It is not going to occur because as Chris Matthews insists, conservatives are engaging in a Stalinesque like purge. It isn’t because moderates are unwelcome.
Charlie Crist is going to run as an independent because at heart he is a coward. Charlie liked being a Republican when he wasn’t being worked hard for a nomination. He liked being a Republican when his detractors supported him in the general elections. For the first time in his life, however, he was faced with a real challenge in the presence of Marco Rubio. He panicked.He attacked. Now that it is obvious he would lose big time in a primary, he bolts.
What does it say of a man who runs in the face of adversity? What does it say when one cannot accept defeat with grace and humility? How should I feel, having voted for such a man five times to see him betray my faith for the grossest of political motives? I’m not naive about politicians. I’m downright realistic, bordering on cynical. We are living in difficult times, but when our conscience is connected and committed, it must reject this most cynical example of political opportunisn represented in Charlie Crist.
Florida and the nation will see through our present quandries, but only if we utterly reject shallow men like Charlie Crist, holding his finger to the wind.
We all knew as kids that twerp in our neighborhood pick up games who threw a fit if he didn’t get his way. He’d ruin everyone’s fun because he was the one that had the bat, the ball or the Nerf football. That kid thought he would get away with it cause he had the means to our good time. If he didn’t get his way, he took the bat,the ball,the Nerf or whatever and walked. But that kid was right. He got his way. We caved, we compromised, because in our mind we needed the bat and ball. THat’s the true face of Charlie Crist . He’s that twerp we all reviled cause he’d throw a fit when we didn’t do it his way or get it his way. Except this isn’t a game and we’re not children anymore. This is about leadership in the United States Senate. Public office is no one’s bat and ball and no one, certainly not Charlie Crist is able to pick it up and take it home with him.
I sincerely apologize for the five times i voted for him. I thought Charlie Crist was a credit to elective public office. I confess a profound error in judgement. My votes helped create his sense of entitlement. This time however I can find absolution with millions of Floridians and send him home without his bat and ball.