Why I support and trust Charlie Crist.
I’m for Charlie Crist because I know him and I know his record. I was a Democratic legislator the entire time Charlie served as Florida’s Attorney General and, then, Governor. When he was elected Governor, in fact, I was elected the Democratic Leader of the Florida House.
So I saw Charlie Crist up close for a decade. And I really liked what I saw. Charlie’s record was that of a genuine moderate, and often a progressive, on so many issues. He proved to me he was a person whose core principles guided him to act in the best interests of Floridians even when it ruffled the feathers of his former political party.
Here is Charlie’s record.
- Civil Rights. As Attorney General he made his signature legislation a landmark civil rights bill that brought greater social justice to our state, and as Governor he sought for and got approved the automatic restoration of felon rights for nonviolent offenders for the first time in Florida history. (since reversed by Governor Scott)
- Economy. When the economy was melting down, Charlie took the brave step of working with Republicans and Democrats in Congress to secure funding to keep 20,000 educators from losing their jobs. He also undertook a major effort to suspend burdensome regulations to move job creating projects forward.
- Climate Change. As Governor one of his first major initiatives was to bring Florida out of the stone ages regarding climate change. He convened a summit (featuring Robert Kennedy Jr.) and a blue-ribbon commission to make the case for clean energy legislation. Charlie enacted sweeping executive orders and ultimately pushed through the legislature a massive bill that addressed greenhouse gas reduction and emission standards.
- Israel. Charlie’s first trade mission as Governor was to Israel where he made it clear that Florida would do all it could to keep Israel strong, secure and prosperous. I accompanied him on that trip and found his efforts sincere and inspiring.
- Open Government. Charlie believed in opening up government to the people. He created the Office of Open Government and convened a Commission on Open Government that fostered greater transparency and compelled all his agencies to establish on-line access to public records.
- Consumer Rights. Charlie was never afraid to take on the two most powerful lobbies in Tallahassee: the insurance industry and the utilities. They expected to get their way when Republicans controlled the capitol, but Charlie fought rate increases harder than anyone in town and even went after their control of the windstorm insurance industry in order to lower rates for homeowners.
- Everglades & Environment. As Governor he was a true champion of our Everglades and environment He negotiated the acquisition of 180,000 acres of agricultural land -- an incredible achievement by any standards -- to be used to preserve Florida’s vital natural gifts.
- Women’s Rights. Over the strong objections of social conservatives of his own party Charlie emphatically supported a women’s right to control her own body when he vetoed a measure that required women seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound.
- Public Education. Similarly, over the howls of the anti-public school crowd, he vetoed a flawed, and patently anti-teacher, merit pay bill that disrespected the entire teaching profession.
- Voting Rights. And the most remarkable of all – in 2008, when Republicans had passed a measure limiting early voting hours to suppress mostly Democratic voters, Charlie unilaterally extended poll hours to the absolute shock and outrage of his Republican colleagues who believed his actions were only helping Democratic nominee Barack Obama.
So it’s easy for me to support Charlie Crist because, frankly, he has made it easy. In an era when voters are becoming increasingly disillusioned with government – he has been one of the few elected officials who approach government with a sensibility and genuine empathy.
I know that the Republican Party of Florida has already started their $100 million campaign to try to vilify him. Calling him names. Questioning his motives.
It won’t work. Charlie’s record is a good one and Floridians know what’s going on. They have watched as a narrow swath of ideologues have taken over the Republican Party nationally and here in Florida, intent on purifying its ranks of officials who commit the high crimes of moderation or bipartisanship. And they also know that Rick Scott is cut from the same cloth as these Washington D.C. demagogues. Like his Washington brethren, Scott supported defaulting on our nation’s debt rather than upsetting his Tea Party base. And Scott’s policies as governor are four square with these political outliers.
So whatever this cabal throws at us, no matter what lies they repeat or childish games they play, Floridians know Charlie, and his record gives them great reason to trust him, believe in him and elect him Governor of our State.