Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rubio has to beat history as well

Marco Rubio is beating Gov. Charlie Crist in the latest poll.

In other news, the Jets were beating the Colts 17-6 for a while on Sunday. The Colts won the game.

Sure, Rubio is a threat to Crist in the Republican side of the race to be Florida's next U.S. senator.

Rubio is red-hot. He is dynamic. He is charming. He is loquacious. He is the darling of conservatives. He has rocketed into contention.

Still …

The past 18 years of Florida politics are littered with people who stood exactly where Rubio stands now.

Every one, Democrat or Republican, considered themselves a better choice. Every one thought it was perfectly obvious that Crist was a lightweight, a fake.

In fact, we already had this Republican primary. It was just four years ago. Many of the same folks were involved, confident Crist was finished.

The 2006 pretender was Tom Gallagher, a onetime moderate pro-choicer who grew up to become Mr. Moral Values. The right embraced him like a prodigal son.

Gallagher and conservative groups pounded away, accusing Crist of "a liberal plan to increase state spending by billions" and having only "bumper-sticker answers."

Crist, 64 percent; Gallagher, 33.

In 2002, Crist ran for attorney general against two other Republicans. One, Locke Burt, ran as the tough-on-crime guy: "Lock 'Em Up Locke."

Burt attacked Crist's lack of substance, saying: "I'm running as the top cop, Tom (Warner) is running as the world's smartest lawyer — and Charlie's just running."

A Warner billboard mocked the fact Crist initially flunked the bar exam: "Sorry, Charlie, these grades aren't good enough for attorney general."

Crist, 50 percent; Warner, 27 percent; Burt, 23 percent.

Crist has lost two elections: his rookie try for the Legislature in 1986, and a doomed challenge to U.S. Sen. Bob Graham in 1998. Even that loss built a statewide presence; he was elected education commissioner two years later, then attorney general.

He has made a career out of running over formidable, veteran opponents: Helen Gordon Davis, an institution of Hillsborough politics, in a 1992 state Senate race; George Sheldon (now Crist's secretary of the Department of Children and Families) in the 2000 education commissioner's race; Buddy Dyer, a former legislator and mayor of Orlando, in the 2002 attorney general's race; and Jim Davis, the former member of Congress, in the 2006 general election.

The tea partiers do not like him. The leftmost half of the Democratic Party does not like him. That leaves him with a mainstream goodwill, and even now, a 50 percent approval rating. Hitting him on issues is like punching a big fluffy pillow.

He has raised $7.5 million and is a shameless campaigner — he does not care whether his opponents think his claims are ridiculous. Crist will be Ronald Reagan, flags waving, claiming that he cut taxes, fought the liberals, improved Florida's schools, and saved the economy. As for Rubio, today's media darling is tomorrow's target.

Last, Crist is certain to beat the Democrats in November; Rubio less so. It matters.

I'm just saying. Others have been in Rubio's shoes before, only to end up asking themselves, as in the old skit on Saturday Night Live: "How can I possibly be losing to this man?" Yet they did.

Rubio has to beat history as well 01/27/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 27, 2010 6:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. On the Camino de Santiago, Day 21: Tears of love and parting mark the beginning of the final leg of a pilgrim's journey.

    Travel

    Day 21: León to Hospital de Orbigo: 32.6 km, 8.75 hours. Total for Days 1-21 = 498 km (309 miles)

  2. Pinellas detectives investigating shooting that led to car crash

    Public Safety

    LARGO — Pinellas Sheriff's detectives are investigating a shooting that investigators said led to a man crashing his car after he was shot in the abdomen early Tuesday.

  3. Trump tweets, McCain return set stage for health bill vote (w/video)

    National

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump urged Republicans to "step up to the plate" for Tuesday's crucial Senate vote on their bill eviscerating much of the Obama health care law. The stage was set for high drama, with Sen. John McCain returning to the Capitol to cast his first vote since being diagnosed with brain …

    President Donald Trump, accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, and others, speaks about healthcare, Monday, July 24, 2017, in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington. [Associated Press]
  4. Teenage driver livestreams crash that killed sister in California (w/video)

    Accidents

    FRESNO, Calif. — A teenage driver lost control of her car while she was livestreaming on Instagram and recorded part of the crash that authorities say killed her younger sister in California.

    This July 22, 2017 photo provided by the Merced County Sheriff, shows Obdulia Sanchez in Merced, Calif. Sanchez has been arrested in California on suspicion of causing a deadly crash that she recorded live on Instagram. She was booked into the Merced County Jail on suspicion of DUI and vehicular manslaughter after Friday's crash that killed her 14-year-old sister and badly injured another 14-year-old girl. [Merced County Sheriff via AP]
  5. Fiancee: Clearwater driver in truck trafficking case helped people

    Nation

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. — When a long-haul truck driver from Clearwater called his fiancee Sunday from a jail more than 1,000 miles from home, he had only a few minutes to describe the gruesome events that led to him being charged with a crime in which he could face the death penalty.

    James Mathew Bradley Jr., 60, of Clearwater, center, is escorted out of the federal courthouse following a hearing, Monday, July 24, 2017, in San Antonio. Bradley was arrested in connection with the deaths of multiple people packed into a broiling tractor-trailer. [Associated Press]