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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Once model for new Republican, Crist now model for endangered Republican



TALLAHASSEE — The governor who gave his final State of the State speech Tuesday night was remarkably different from the man who delivered his first formal address just three years ago.

In 2007, Charlie Crist was heralded as the new breed of Republican, surviving the Democratic wave of 2006 and talking about putting people before partisanship. He kicked off his opening session by calling for paper trails for voting machines and higher pay for strong teachers and invoking Robert F. Kennedy. Democrats clapped louder than fellow Republicans.

"Isn't it wonderful to have a governor saying Democratic things?'' Democratic Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink said at the time.

But the seeds of Crist's current troubles were planted in that speech. Eschewing ideologues and touting post-partisanship worked great in 2007. Today, in a Republican primary, it looks like poison.

The man addressing the Legislature on Tuesday night is no longer a national model for Republican success, but rather a national model for endangered Republicans. He is a Republican Senate candidate fighting for his political life and he sounded less like Mr. Nice Guy than a combative and unapologetic candidate determined to cast frontrunner Marco Rubio as small and petty.

(The full analysis by Adam C. Smith is here. Also, a look at how the Ray Sansom issue looms in the Rubio-Crist race.)

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 12:24pm]


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