For Florida Republicans, Charlie Crist’s immediate status as the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for governor is just proof of how bankrupt the Democratic Party really is in the Sunshine State.
And even having a “friend” in the White House named Barack Obama, or Obama campaign alumni helping guide his operation, wouldn’t be enough to get the party out of the red.
“The idea that that’s the best they could come up with says a lot about what they’ve done in Florida — or what they didn’t do,” Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry said in a BizPac Review interview Monday after Crist’s anti-climactic dog-and-donkey show in St. Petersburg on Monday to announce he was seeking the Democratic nomination for governor.
“We’re going to focus on the positives,” Curry said: the job growth and fiscal responsibility of the Rick Scott administration, that has seen the state’s unemployment rate fall from 11.4 percent in January 2010, when Scott took office, to 7 percent in October.
Florida Republicans, of course, have no reason for warm feelings about a former Republican governor who left the party because he was about to get beat in a primary and is not trying to be a governor again as a Democrat.
But if Crist is the best Democrats can do, the Republican Governors Association isn’t surprised.
“With such a weak bench of candidates, it would not surprise us to see Florida Democrats pick Crist as their nominee,” Jon Thompson, spokesman for the group.
“We’re going to make sure all Floridians are well aware of Charlie Crist’s failed record as governor and how Governor Rick Scott has fixed his mess.”
In courting Florida Democrats, the erstwhile Republican Crist is likely to tout his support for Obama, announced to the world with the embrace of Obama’s stimulus policy in 2009 and proclaimed to the world at the 2012 Democrat convention in Charlotte, N.C.
Go ahead, Republicans said.
“We don’t know if President Obama will support Charlie Crist in the Democratic primary, but after seeing Crist feign his support for President Obama at the Democratic National Convention in 2012 after spending years attacking him, Obama might pull a Crist and flip-flop himself,” Thompson said in the email.
How much Obama’s support would help might be questionable anyway, U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., said in an email.
For instance, there’s that little matter of the health-care reform that bears his name and isn’t looking all that popular these days.
“Charlie Crist and President Obama will have to explain to all voters, regardless of political ideology, why Obamacare is good for Florida when 300,000 Floridians have had their health insurance dropped and countless others have experience premium rate increases,” Ross said.
That might not be the conversation a Crist campaign really wants to have, Thompson said.
“President Obama’s disapproval in Florida is currently higher than his approval,” the email stated. “Charlie Crist might welcome President Obama campaigning for him, but the millions of Floridians who are negatively affected by President Obama and Washington D.C.’s culture of dysfunction might not be so welcoming.”
Curry, however, said the Florida Republican Party isn’t worried about who the Democrats choose as their nominee, or who campaigns.
His job, he said, is clear: Pound home the message that Florida is better off than it was four years ago.
“There are things we can’t control,” he said.
“We’re going to focus on the positive.”
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