Charlie Crist, current Governor of Florida, is mentioned as a possible Vice Presidential contender on a ticket with Arizona Senator John McCain. The 52-year-old white-haired Governor has the classic good looks of a political candidate. Crist endorsed McCain in Florida at a crucial time, and Crist’s support played a key role in McCain’s win in Florida and could well prove instrumental in helping McCain secure Florida’s 27 electoral votes at the St. Paul, Minnesota convention in September.
Crist has the resume of a potential VP, also, having served as Attorney General of Florida from 2003 to 2007, where he earned the nickname “Chain Gang Charlie” because of his hard stance on crime and his belief that prisoners should work on chain gangs. He also proposed a program known as STOP (Stop Turning Out Prisoners), a bill to make sure that prisoners in Florida serve at least 85% of their sentences (Phil Lapadula’s blog, Friday, October 27, 2006).
Crist’s positions, according to Wikipedia online are as follows:
Abortion: pro-life and pro-family
Adoptive parents – $3,000 subsidy to heterosexual adoptive parents and $5,000 to foster parents..
Education – advocate of parental choice of schools and strict, standardized testing (Crist served as the last State Education Commissioner. He supported $3.8 billion dollar bill to reduce class size in Florida schools.)
Health care – prescription drug tracking for assurance of safety
Homeowners’ insurance – advocate of lower rates (*a hot issue in Florida. See more below.)
Citizens’ insurance – wants to abolish it and have report cards for insurance companies, which have been fleeing many coastal states after Hurricane Katrina or charging outrageous fees for homeowners’ insurance.
Right to die – supports this, including respect for living wills. (*Received criticism for failure to more strongly support her family in Terry Schiavo case, when Governor Bush was on the opposite side.)
Eminent domain – legal protection in such cases
Lawsuit reform – eliminate joint and several liability
Property tax flexibility – just campaigned all over Florida in television ads to reduce taxes by 1%, a bill that passed.
Defense of Marriage Act – supported it (Nov, 2006). (See further discussion of positions further in this article, discussing the Broward Palm Beach News article (Oct. 19, 2006) by Julia Reischel entitled “Charlie Crist is NOT gay.”)
Death penalty – cautious support for death penalty. Known for STOP, “Stop Turning Out Prisoners,” which requires prisoners to serve at least 85% of their prison sentences. Crist’s website tells us that this earned him appointment as an Honorary Sheriff by the Florida Sheriffs’ Association, the 3rd person to receive such an honor.
Gun rights – Endorsed by the NRA as an “A+” candidate.
Hate crimes – trying to stop the “clear pattern of growth” in such crimes.
Immigration – supports closed borders
Legalized gambling – opposes further statewide expansion of legalized gambling
Environmental protection – strong advocate of a ban on oil drilling near Florida’s coastline. Supported $100 million to protect the Everglades.
Identity theft – worked with the legislature to pass new laws that dramatically toughened the penalties for identity theft and counterfeiting or dealing in prescription drugs.
Civil rights – worked to pass Florida’s landmark civil rights legislation, the Marvin Davies Civil Rights Act of 2003
Internet – worked to target those who distribute illegal spam on the Internet.
Utility rates – worked to freeze utility rates and telecom deception.
Emission controls – July 2007, announced plans to sign executive orders imposing strict air pollution standards in the state, with aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% of 1990 levels by the year 2050. Wants state to go green.
Creation of Research Flagship Universities – signed into law SB-1710, which allowed the Board of Governors to allow Tuition Differential only for the University of Florida, Florida State University, and the University of South Florida. Supported a $3.8 billion bill to reduce class size.
Insurance companies – has been embroiled in public disputes with property insurers over homeowners’ insurance rates. He had expected insurers to lower their rates, with new reinsurance coverage, available from the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund. Doubts exist in the marketplace whether the FHCF can really offer coverage. Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s, and A.M. Best have warned insurers that, if they accept too much reinsurance from FHCF, they risk being downgraded. Therefore, insurers have gone to the private reinsurance market and the rates are significantly higher.
So, what else is there to know about this potential Vice President of the United States?
Governor Crist signed a petition for an anti-gay marriage amendment and opposes repealing the law that prevents gay or lesbian couples from adopting. Having said that, the rumors that Charlie Crist is gay have circulated in political circles for years. Don Jacobsen, a Palm Beach lawyer, was heard to say (at a Donald Trump fund-raiser), “Well, first Crist needs to admit that he’s gay,” according to the Broward Palm Beach News, in the article mentioned above (10/18/06, “Charlie Crist is NOT Gay”). The man who ran against Crist claims they discussed Charlie’s sexuality, and he is bi-sexual, but this individual made these charges on a radio show at the time he was running against Crist, creating a healthy dose of skepticism at the validity of the charges.
A blog devoted to gay issues (the name of which cannot be printed in a family blog) by Phil Lapadula, reported the issue this way: “I’m not surprised that the daily newspapers aren’t covering it. If someone comes forward and says I worked with him and he gave me perks because I was having an affair with him, or he molested me, or he abused me in a relationship, that’s a different story. But the mere accusation that someone is gay is a non-story.” Another individual (McBride) pointed out that in the cases of former Congressman Mark Foley, former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey and former Spokane Mayor Jim West, “It was not the fact that they were gay that brought them down. It was the fact that they abused their power. If they had done that in a heterosexual relationship, it would still be a story.” (Eliot Spitzer, anyone?)
What can factually be determined regarding Crist’s personal life? He was married for 7 months in 1979-80 to a woman named Amanda Marrow They had no children. Since their 1980 divorce, he has lived in a rented one-bedroom apartment in St. Petersburg, has only a single VISA card on which he carries no balance, seldom tips more than 20%, and remains a bachelor. He went from $0 to $400,000 in 20 years, by letting Charlie Crist, Sr., manage his money, which put him ahead of roughly half of Florida’s 160 lawmakers and most of his contemporaries, according to Caryn Baird and Mary Mellstrom, who reported on Crist, along with Scott Barancik, in a July 9, 2006, article in the St. Petersburg Times.
Other facts we might note about Charlie Crist, before reciting his sterling academic credentials: he owns no property or corporate stock. He has zero debt and says it “helps me sleep better at night.” He does not itemize, but uses the standard deduction. He donated $1,000 to 3 charities in 2006. His net worth in 2006 was $422,000. He leases a yellow 2006 Mustang V6 convertible and also drives a yellow 97 Jaguar XK8. He also purchased a 25-foot fishing boat, (one of his few indulgences).
Famous supporters include John Walsh (“America’s Most Wanted”), Donald Trump, and the Reverend O’Neal Dozier, who once called Islam a “cult” and “a dangerous religion” and was forced from the Broward Judicial Nomination Commission as a result of other anti-Islam statements.
Governor Crist’s web-site says that his life “illustrates the American dream,” and cites his Grandfather Adam, who came to America from Cyprus, penniless, nearly 100 years ago, and worked shining shoes. Grandpa Crist owned a small business, raised 7 children, and saw Charles, the Governor’s father, go on to school to become a doctor. Although Charlie Crist, the Governor, was born in Altoona, Pennsylvania, the son of Charlie Crist, Sr. and Nancy Lee Crist, the family soon relocated to St. Petersburg, where young Charlie attended Riviera Middle School.
Upon graduating from high school, where he was the starting quarterback on the football team and class president, he played at Wake Forest University, but transferred to Florida State in 1978, where he was named Mr. Seminole and served as Vice President of the Florida State University student body. Charlie then earned a law degree from Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, Alabama.
After working in the State Attorney’s Office, he took a position as General Counsel for the minor league division of the Baseball Commissioner’s Office. He worked in this position for five years. In 1986, Charlie took a run at a popular incumbent for the 1986 state Senate, and lost by 20-some points. He then worked for Connie Mack as State Director in 1988. By 1992, he was ready. He ran again and won a position as a state Senator.
In 1999, then-Governor Jeb Bush appointed Charlie Deputy Secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Despite this tie to the Bush family, Crist did not utilize President Bush in his last run for office, a time when the incumbent President had historically low approval ratings.
Crist campaigned long and hard for John McCain in the Florida primary, and it was a big boost to the Arizona Senator’s campaign. He is also the first Republican governor to accept the state’s NAACP invitation to a convention, and was referred to by Terry Fields, Democratic Representative of Jacksonville, Florida, as the state’s “first black governor,” a post similar to Bill Clinton’s honorary title as the nation’s “first black President.”
Crist categorizes himself as “a moderate Populist conservative.” His strong support of the 2nd amendment (“A well-regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” 1791) may put him at odds with the 57% of citizens who feel that major restrictions or outright bans on guns are necessary, or the 91% who feel that at least minor restrictions on gun ownership are mandated. Eighty-one percent of those polled (blog fact, Phil Lapadula, Friday, Oct. 27, 2006), said it was “an important issue;” 40% of Americans own guns.
Ever since seeing the photogenic Governor on Florida television ads, while in Florida in January, I have said that I think he could well be the Vice Presidential nominee, (if McCain secured the Republican nomination.) Crist has been a tireless advocate for citizens, never forgetting his humble roots, and, from all accounts, has devoted himself to the citizens of Florida. Lower taxes, less government, more freedom are hallmarks of Crist’s stands, and coincide nicely with McCain’s.
On all the issues above, McCain and Crist seem to fit together logically. The open animosity that could be seen and felt between McCain and former opponent Mitt Romney were totally absent during the McCain/Crist Florida campaigning. Certainly Crist’s positions on the important issues of the day seem more in line with science and the 21st Century than those of one other candidate who doesn’t believe in evolution and seems to blur the line between church and state quite frequently.
McCain/Crist seem to be very similar in their views. I, for one, think Charlie Crist’s selection as the Vice Presidential nominee by Senator John McCain is a very realistic possibility.