Crist Is No Conservative

June 2nd, 2009 at 9:33 am | 8 Comments |

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I’ve got to disagree with Andrew Pavelyev: Charlie Crist’s election to the Senate would be a dramatic setback for the conservative movement. Quite simply, click the Florida governor and Senate candidate doesn’t have a conservative bone in his body.

Although popular, Crist has proven himself a lousy Florida governor. He pushed through an insurance reform bill that put his state in direct competition with private insurers mostly for the benefit of wealthy residents who live on the beach.  At the same time, he crippled the state’s finances by capping property taxes in a way that helps wealthier residents at the expense of the poor (income taxes are already banned under the constitution.) The state has property insurance debts that could exceed $30 billion and no practical way of paying them. One serious storm and the state might well have to take a trip to bankruptcy court.

While imposing massive liabilities on the state Treasury, Crist has paid little attention to the craft of governing. He zero-funded a cheap, effective program that reduced insurance subsidies by helping poorer residents retrofit their homes, cut spending on children’s health care, and seems to have done everything he can to send the state’s so-so public schools down the disastrous state-run course that California has set for its public schools.

For all his talk about global warming he’s yet to do anything effective in Florida and, by subsidizing coastal construction through government-backed property insurance, will increase whatever damage results from rising sea levels and potentially stronger storms. (Major green groups like the National Wildlife Foundation and Sierra Club oppose the sort of government insurance subsidies Crist favors.)

On a variety of other issues, Crist seems likely to take a position well to the port side of the Republican caucus. He supported Obama’s stimulus package (quite possibly hoping that some of the money could eventually come to bail Florida out of the insurance mess he has created), wants federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, and opposes offshore oil drilling.

In short, it’s difficult to see what the Republican Party really gains from having Crist in the Senate.  And, as someone used to being in charge — he was attorney general before becoming governor — Crist might well grow restless. Given his close relationship with President Obama, it seems quite possible he would simply switch parties. With his own state trending strongly Democratic, in fact, doing so might well provide the path to victory in a 2016 election if he proves victorious in 2010.

Marco Rubio isn’t a perfect candidate. In fact, he initially supported Crist’s misbegotten property insurance plan (only two members of the legislature opposed it.) But he’ll add diversity to a party that desperately needs to hold on to some of the Latino vote, holds genuine conservative values, and wouldn’t ever switch parties.

Crist may well pick up a few more swing voters than Rubio would but he’ll do nothing to energize the Republican base and, in a state where the Democratic Party seems ascendant, an energized base is absolutely key.

Besides an “R” next to his name on the ballot, nothing Crist has done suggests an alignment with the goals or positions of the Republican Party. Marco Rubio is the better choice.

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8 Comments so far ↓

  • sinz54

    If the state is trending strongly Democratic, as you admit, then what chance does Rubio have? And even if he eked out a win, wouldn’t he end up being a one-term senator?

  • Tenek

    A thought experiment.I have three bills. A $5, a $10 and a $20. You may ask me for exactly one of them, and I will give you a bill based on your request.If you ask me for the $5, you’ll get it.If you ask me for the $10, you’ll get it.If you ask me for the $20, you get the $5.Which one would you like?

  • Bulldoglover100

    Soooooo….Rush Limbaugh ..married 3 times and user of illegal drugs then rehab is a conservative?Newt….adultry? is a conservative?Cheney…supporting gay marriage is conservative?Vitter hiring hookers is conservative?I could go on but the point is pretty apparent to anyone with a brain……we can throw all the stones we want but people thinking we are just stupid is happening.

  • InTheMiddle12

    So let me get this right. Crist appears a moderate Republican and should not be elected in a state that is leaning toward the moderates and democrats?WOW. To what end will this insanity go? Until there are no Republicans left?

  • InTheMiddle12

    So let me get this right. Crist appears a moderate Republican and should not be elected in a state that is leaning toward the moderates and democrats?WOW. To what end will this insanity go? Until there are no Republicans left?

  • Bulldoglover100

    Eli is one of “those” conservative but in reality he is someone who does not believe in a democratic system for our country. His idea of how American should be ran lost. Period. They lost big time BUT now that they have lost? They still want their way. They are willing to lie and go to any length to get it. Like babies pitching a crying fit they want us to listen to lies and their distortion of the way things should be yet they are in the minority…your way of life lost Eli and based on polls? Your wizzing in the wind and trying to not get wet.Try honesty. Try coming up with better ideas and a way to help our country get back on the track. Crist has done a good job abeit one that does not agree 100% with you and your kind. His state demands that he REPRESENT THEM NOT YOU and he should be free to do so and not have OUR party abandon him. YOUR part is welcome to leave or do whatever your frothing pieholes spew but the majority in this party? are sick of you guys.

  • sinz54

    Mr. Lehrer,Keeping the Senate Dems away from a filibuster-proof majority is far more important than whether the “conservative movement” is satiated.If Crist gets into the Senate, I don’t care if he acts moderate. I don’t care if he sits there and does crossword puzzles or origami. Because I know he won’t be a reliable Dem vote.The Dems understand this. They ran so-called “Blue Dog” candidates whom the Dem base disagrees with on a number of issues. But that way, they got a filibuster-proof majority on at least some issues (and even more issues when Obama applies White House muscle). And that serves them well.

  • senor

    I agree with virtually everything about this article. Crist is a lousy governor, primarily because his ambition keeps him from standing for anything. Did you see how much he wanted to be McCain’s running mate? He would not be reliable for anybody in the Senate. The problem is that Rubio is way too far to the right. His bill prohibiting state employees from going to Cuba is responsible for a number of a very good academics, such as history professors, leaving the state because they can’t go to Cuba for research. Rubio is a classic example of the tail wagging the dog. JEB was no great shakes as a governor either (how many of his Supreme Court picks are still on the bench?) and he seriously damaged the economy of the panhandle by his antipathy to state government in general, but I wish he had decided to run for Senate.