The Florida governor’s race resembled a fable-like fairy-tale mash-up last week. The roles:
Charlie Crist, as Brer Rabbit.
Gov. Rick Scott, as the emperor and his new clothes.
Steve Halverson, the chair of the Florida Council of 100, as the archetypal fall-guy of a fool.
The three became part of the same campaign tale amid the business group’s annual spring meeting. Scott was scheduled to speak Thursday, followed by Crist a few hours later at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando.
That’s because Scott is treated like an emperor — not the stupid or incompetent leader found in “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” but the recipient of bad counsel that too often leaves him exposed. Some also play the role of yes-men court dignitaries who’ll say or do whatever they can in anticipation of the governor’s desires and moods.
Halverson, a Scott campaign contributor, decided Crist shouldn’t speak. He called and apologized to Crist.
“I made that decision in an effort to avoid any appearance of a political candidate forum,” he told The Miami Herald in a text message, denying that he was ordered to do so by Scott or the governor’s chief of staff, Adam Hollingsworth, Halverson’s friend and fellow Jacksonville resident.
But Halverson wouldn’t say if he had been called before he pulled the plug on Crist’s speech. Some council members say Halverson was feeling pressure from some Scott supporters who felt the GOP-leaning group had been “disloyal” for its positions on education that failed to cheer the governor’s position.
Something happened, Crist and others point out. Crist, after all, was invited by the council, the agenda was printed and then, at the last moment, the council changed course. When Halverson informed council members of his decision, some objected.