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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Dan Gelber: Welcome to the Dem party, Charlie Crist



Former state Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, wrote a piece for Florida Voices about the prospect of Republican-turned independent Charlie Crist joining the Democratic party:

...I firmly believe the Democratic Party should embrace Republicans and independent voters who are no longer comfortable with the GOP’s rigid and extreme dogma. It doesn’t sacrifice our principles to invite newcomers and accept political refugees whose world-view is more aligned with ours.  As the Republican Party becomes increasingly obedient to the far-right wing, this isn’t just smart politics; it’s the right thing to do. 

One way to really make that happen is for the Democratic Party to invite independent voters to participate in our 2014 primary for governor. These voters make up 20 percent of the electorate, and up to now have only been bystanders in the process of selecting nominees for our state’s highest office. By including them in the primary process, our candidates will have to reach out to them. They may like what they hear and, more importantly, our candidates may learn something if they listen.

Independents, and swing voters in general, tend to determine statewide elections. In 2004 they voted for Bush; in 2008 they went for Obama. And as the Republican Party becomes increasingly divorced from the mainstream, the numbers of independent voters will only grow. 

Democrats have a right to include independent voters in their primary, and could with a simple internal rule change by the Florida Democratic Party. No less an authority than the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that political parties have a “right of association” that allows them to include unaffiliated voters in their nomination process. This is a real opportunity that should not be passed up....

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[Last modified: Friday, August 3, 2012 10:20am]


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