By Alex Posa
I admit that I have a special place in my heart for Republican-turned-independent Charlie Crist. While I disagree with many of his policies, I still respect him.
He has conservative views but rarely does anything drastic. He opposes gay marriage, (even though I, and many other Floridians, think he’s gay) but he’s never used his stance as a political ploy.
The 2006 election was the first time I voted. Charlie Crist faced Congressman and University of Florida law school graduate, Jim Davis. In a less exciting, but much sweeter race, incumbent and former astronaut Bill Nelson handily defeated former election fuck-upper Katherine Harris in the US senate race. This was no surprise as no daily newspaper endorsed Harris. The gubernatorial election was a bit more disappointing; my little pencil filled bubble didn’t sway the vote and Crist won by seven points.
The first few months of his governorship and I were on surprisingly amicable terms. Perhaps his best quality is he’s not Jeb Bush. After eight years of living through the rape of our public school system with budget cuts and excessive test, anything different is a nice change.
Crist has a pretty solid record on civil rights. Florida does some pretty despicable things when it comes to voting, even when ignoring our cluster fuck of an election in 2000. Until 2007 we were one of the few states to permanently revoke the voting rights of felons even after release. Crist has moved us away from this. Now many non-violent offenders automatically have their voting rights restored after released and all others can apply immediately after release. Crist was also the first Republican governor to accept an invitation to our state’s NAACP convention, although to be fair he’s only the fourth Republican since the end of Reconstruction. We also have a paper trail for all electronic voting machines thanks to Crist.
After one of the worst crimes by prison guards in recent Florida history, Crist did the best he could do in a terrible situation. In 2006 Martin Lee Anderson was a 14-year-old in a boot camp style juvenile correction center. On his second day at the boot camp Anderson died after collapsing while performing required physical training. Even after complaining of fatigue the guards coerced him to continue running. The first official autopsy blamed his death on complications from sickle cell trait. It soon came out that guards had beaten Anderson and forced him to inhale ammonia the day before. Then-Governor Bush did very little, the extent of his activism was signing a bill closing our five juvenile boot camps. When Crist took the helms he pushed a $5 million settlement through the legislature. I say not bad for a Republican.
Considering how things could turn out this year, the former-Republican Crist probably wouldn’t be a bad addition to the Senate. There’s little question that this will be a bad year for Democrats; as of April FiveThirtyEight is predicting a loss of four seats in the Senate and a possible Republican take-over in the House of Representatives. Because I don’t want the Senate to go completely to hell, I’ll be waiting to see what the poll numbers are doing before I make up my mind. If it’s neck and neck between Crist and the Republican nominee, and the Democrat (most likely Kendrick Meek) doesn’t look like he can win, I’ll somewhat reluctantly vote for Crist. That’s the way things are heading right now but we won’t even have primaries until August, so it’s hard to say. Any other scenario and I’ll vote for Meek.
Unfortunately, Kendrick Meek looks too liberal to win a statewide election. He represents the most Democratic district in Florida; Democrats have won around 85% of the vote in the last three presidential elections. The most conservative stance I could find is, he opposes late-term abortions. Meek is also Black, which probably won’t be much of an issue in Florida, but remember America has only elected three Black Senators since Reconstruction. Of these, two were from Illinois (Carol Mosley Braun and Obama) and the other was Edward Brooke, a moderate Republican from Massachusetts
This November I may vote for my first non-Democrat in a partisan race. Crist’s political stances may not align perfectly with mine, but I’m too pragmatic to toss my, and by extension my family’s vote into a lost cause. But if I have to vote for Crist this November I can do it with my head held high.