Charlie Crist may be the Democratic Party’s best hope to regaining the governor’s mansion after a 16-year drought, but those who know him well say that if he gets his former job back, the newly-minted Democrat will govern much like the Republican he was four years ago.
“Charlie Crist is truly the same person he was before; he’s just in a different party,’’ said Brian Ballard, the longtime GOP fundraiser for Crist who is now backing Gov. Rick Scott. “By his nature, Charlie is someone who wants to find consensus and, for that reason, will govern as he did before — as a moderate.”
If voters give Crist a second term, he has promised to focus on restoring funding cuts to education, strengthening environmental protection, expanding affordable healthcare, encouraging solar energy and growing jobs from within the state. On other populist issues and pocketbook concerns, like taxes and insurance, he is expected to take a centrist approach.
But as head of a party that has won only six of the last 22 statewide elections, Crist could serve an equally potent role: Democratic Party mender-in-chief.
“He’ll promote people in the administration to start a bench and he’ll raise money,” said Paula Dockery, a former Republican state senator from Lakeland and Crist supporter. More on a Crist second term here.
Gov. Rick Scott’s supporters say that if you liked his first term in office, you’ll love his second. But critics say that if Scott is liberated from having to face voters again, he’ll revert to the divisiveness that marked his first year in office.
Scott, 61, hopes to make history next month and join Jeb Bush as Florida’s second two-term Republican governor. As millions of voters cast mail ballots from Key West to Pensacola, polls show a tight race between Scott and Democrat Charlie Crist.
In pursuit of a second term, Scott promises to pour more money into education, environmental protection, airports and seaports and to cut taxes by up to $1 billion — a plan that requires approval of the Legislature and voters. He also says his top priority of creating jobs will stay the same.
“We need to make more progress in this being the best place to get a job, because it will be the best place to build a business,” Scott said as he cruised across the Panhandle on his “Let’s Keep Working” campaign motor coach. “Florida today is positioned to be the worldwide leader in job creation.”
Scott allies such as Susie Wiles, who managed his 2010 campaign, expect more of the same. More on a Scott second term here.