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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Arlen Specter with a tan



Gov. Charlie Crist was narrowly spared big-time embarrassment tonight when the Palm Beach County Republican Executive Committee tied 65-65 on whether to censure him for acting too much like a Democrat and too little like a conservative. The Palm Beach Post's Jen Sorentrue reported it first via the Post's blog.

Though the censure failed, the man who pushed it, Steve Ledewitz said he earned the best applause of the night with this one-liner: "Charlie Crist is nothing more than Arlen Specter with a tan."

Anyway, what is it with Palm Beach County and close votes? The land of the butterfly ballot loves squeakers, and tonight's meeting had two. Not only did the censure die on a tie, but so did a motion to kill (that is, table) the censure. That was a 64-64 vote.

This is the second county censure vote targeting Crist, who wasn't busted for cheating on his wife but was caught in the arms of another man: President Barack Obama. Albeit, it was an embrace onstage to tout the stimulus package. Entendre aside, the hug was among the many problems that Volusia Republicans had with him. They censured Crist Aug. 1 (more here).

While the Wednesday night vote is a sign Crist's charm offensive has worked, it's nothing to brag about for the Republican leader.

"The governor clearly has a problem with the base of the Republican Party," said Sid Dinerstein, chairman of the Palm Beach County party. "The first question you have to ask in a primary election is: Are voters ready to get rid of someone they once favored? The answer is yes, the Republican Party is willing to get rid of Charlie Crist."

Dinerstein's remarks are common among Republican leaders, but they stand out because
Dinerstein often speaks highly of Crist. Yet Dinerstein and the rest of the party voted Wednesday to host an unofficial straw poll in October to see if Palm Beach County.

Crist might owe Dinerstein. Apparently, one man who might have voted against Crist and for the censure, Barry Carson, stepped out of the room to go to the bathroom. And when he came back in to cast his vote, the chairman ruled him ineligible. That's according to Ledewitz, who first brought forth the censure motion wayyyyyyy back in February.

Dinerstein, though, said Carson missed the roll call vote and, only when the tie vote was announced, did he then say that his vote hadn't been counted. Too bad there wasn't a hanging chad or two in the mix.

-- Marc Caputo

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 3:57pm]


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