Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Politics

Does medical marijuana vote provide a boost for Charlie Crist?

The equation, in theory, goes something like this:

If (A) progressive voters favor medical marijuana, and (B) a medical marijuana amendment is now on the November ballot, then (C) the more liberal candidate for governor will benefit.

In other words, this was a good week for Charlie Crist, right?

Nonpresidential elections tend to draw older (theoretically conservative) crowds, so any issue that engages younger voters has to be good for Democrats.

There's just one caveat: This theory hasn't produced overwhelming results elsewhere.

Looking back at 13 states with medical marijuana ballot initiatives in the past 20 years or so, it's hard to say with certainty that any candidate owes victory or defeat to an influx of young voters.

For instance, voters in Montana approved a marijuana amendment in 2004 while electing a Democratic governor for the first time in 20 years. But the Democrat they elected had come out against legalized marijuana. And considering voters also went big for George W. Bush and passed a gay marriage ban, it doesn't look like a liberal avalanche in retrospect.

In 2010, voters in Arizona approved medical marijuana but also elected a Republican governor for the first time in a dozen years.

The story is similar in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Nevada, Colorado and other states where the coattail effects of pot often seem inconclusive.

So, should we dismiss marijuana's impact in Florida?

Not necessarily.

What could make a difference is if Crist pushes this harder than candidates have in the past in other states. History says just being the Democrat on the ballot will not guarantee him support from marijuana proponents. So Crist might consider making this a wedge issue.

Since Gov. Rick Scott has an improving economy on his side, Crist is going to have to stake out ground elsewhere. Social issues such as medical marijuana and same-sex marriage could help him paint Scott as an out-of-touch conservative in a moderate state.

"Based on the polls, medical marijuana enjoys greater support than either Rick Scott or Crist in Florida," said Morgan Fox, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. "I can't imagine it's the greatest idea for a candidate to be against something so many voters are supporting.

"While we may not see a higher turnout, the medical marijuana question could change the demographics of who does come out."

Proponents of medical marijuana have been on a roll the past couple of weeks, but they can't afford to relax now. That also may help Crist.

Amendments require a 60 percent majority in Florida, and that's not an easy threshold to reach — no matter what the polls say.

Of the last 17 state initiatives involving medical marijuana nationwide, only six have topped 60 percent. Since 2010, the numbers have been 50.1 (Arizona), 37 (South Dakota), 63 (Massachusetts) and 49 (Arkansas).

"A lot of people will say they support something and then don't show up," said Fox. "You generally want polls to show you have 10 percent more than you need. I think the latest polls in Florida are around 77 percent, so I'm pretty confident it will pass. But, yes, it's entirely possible it won't."

It's an issue Crist shouldn't take for granted, either.

Comments
Back to work: Government shutdown ending as Dems relent

Back to work: Government shutdown ending as Dems relent

New York TimesWASHINGTON ó Congress brought an end to a three-day government shutdown on Monday as Senate Democrats buckled under pressure to adopt a short-term spending bill to fund government operations without first addressing the fate of young un...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Congressman combating harassment used public money on own case

Congressman combating harassment used public money on own case

WASHINGTON ó Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., who has taken a leading role in fighting sexual harassment in Congress, used thousands of dollars in taxpayer money to settle his own misconduct complaint after a former aide accused him last year of making un...
Published: 01/20/18
The longer the shutdown lasts, the further the economic ripples will spread

The longer the shutdown lasts, the further the economic ripples will spread

The early days of the federal government shutdown wonít slow the U.S. economy much. No workers are missing paychecks yet, and because it is a weekend, few businesses expect to feel the effects of lost customers or suppliers.That could change, quickly...
Published: 01/20/18
Romano: If UCF is national champion, then Iím a Hollywood stud

Romano: If UCF is national champion, then Iím a Hollywood stud

Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said people were entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.Clearly, Moynihan never dealt with Florida legislators.Because around Tallahassee, facts are fungible. They arenít just up for debate, they...
Published: 01/19/18
Updated: 01/20/18
U.S. government shuts down; Democrats, GOP blame each other

U.S. government shuts down; Democrats, GOP blame each other

WASHINGTON ó The federal government shut down at the stroke of midnight Friday, halting all but the most essential operations and marring the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trumpís inauguration in a striking display of Washington dysfunctio...
Published: 01/19/18
Updated: 01/20/18
Battle lines already forming for Menendez corruption retrial

Battle lines already forming for Menendez corruption retrial

NEWARK, N.J. ó U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez might spend 2018 asking voters to re-elect him and jurors to acquit him. Prosecutors from the Department of Justice told a federal judge in New Jersey on Friday that they will seek a retrial of the Democratic sen...
Published: 01/19/18
Congress likely racing toward a government shutdown

Congress likely racing toward a government shutdown

WASHINGTON ó A bitterly-divided Congress hurtled toward a government shutdown this weekend in a partisan stare-down over demands by Democrats for a solution on politically fraught legislation to protect about 700,000 younger immigrants from being dep...
Published: 01/19/18
Clearwater City Council candidate John Funk: City needs better planning

Clearwater City Council candidate John Funk: City needs better planning

CLEARWATER ó Voters may not be too familiar with the name John Funk.So since launching his campaign for City Council Seat 5 against well-known incumbent Hoyt Hamilton, Funk said he has knocked on 2,000 doors to introduce himself. Before the March 13 ...
Published: 01/19/18
Clearwater City Council candidate Hoyt Hamilton: Experience is key for critical next term

Clearwater City Council candidate Hoyt Hamilton: Experience is key for critical next term

CLEARWATER ó By asking voters to elect him into office a fifth time, Hoyt Hamilton knows heís now considered part of the old-guard. Born and raised in Clearwater, his family roots stretch back here more than 100 years. Hamilton, 59, spent nearly his ...
Published: 01/19/18

Q&A: Government shutdown looms. Hereís what you need to know

Lawmakers have until midnight tonight to pass legislation to avert a government shutdown.Hereís what that means. Why would the government shut down?Every year, Congress has to approve laws, known as appropriations, that provide money for federal agen...
Published: 01/18/18