Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Buzz: Crist won't reveal 2010 gubernatorial choice

It seemed a fairly basic question for a fellow considering running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination: Back in 2010, when Charlie Crist was running for the U.S. Senate without party affiliation, did he vote for Democratic nominee Alex Sink for governor or for Rick Scott, of the GOP's tea party wing?

Crist won't say.

"It's a secret ballot, and I think that's an important thing in our country," Crist, now a registered Democrat, said in a Political Connections interview airing today on Bay News 9.

He did volunteer that he voted for Barack Obama in 2012, though not in 2008. And he said that even if he had remained a Republican and won a seat in the U.S. Senate, he probably would have endorsed Obama last year.

"(My) last two years as governor were President Obama's first two years as president and I really got to know the man during that period of time, both with the stimulus money that he was kind enough to present in Fort Myers and also with the BP spill, the oil spill — I mean a lot of time with this, in my opinion, great president," Crist said in the interview airing at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. "It's because of the way he comports himself, and the policies and the openness that he has about him, I came to admire it more and more."

Crist has no timetable for making a decision or announcement about running for governor, and it's fair to assume he is in no rush to put a big target on himself. The Florida GOP already is hammering him as a phony, and Gov. Scott has pointedly noted that Florida has gained jobs under his leadership and lost jobs under Crist's.

"Well, I think we had a global economic meltdown right after I got elected," Crist said. "I don't think anybody really thinks a governor of one of the 50 states caused the global economic meltdown. Let's be serious."

Democrats in Florida have performed fairly well in presidential elections, but Republicans have usually crushed them in non-presidential election years. What does the party need in Florida?

"Just energy, excitement, enthusiasm — a little juice is what it takes," said Crist.

Scott looks vulnerable

A poll released last week by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling highlighted just how vulnerable Gov. Scott looks at this point: Only 33 percent of Florida voters approve of his performance and 57 percent disapprove. Even Republicans are unenthusiastic, with just 49 percent approving of his performance.

Meanwhile, Crist's high-profile support of Obama appears to have paid off. Fifty-two percent of Democratic primary voters say they would like for Crist to be their candidate for governor next year, compared to 18 percent for Sink, 13 percent for former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio, 4 percent for Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, and 1 percent for former state Sen. Nan Rich, the only announced candidate.

In hypothetical matchups against Scott, Crist leads 53 percent to 49 percent; Sink leads 47 percent to 40 percent; Iorio 43 percent to 39 percent.

Rubio open to changes

In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook school shootings, Sen. Marco Rubio added his voice to lawmakers who said they would be willing to have a debate about the nation's gun laws.

"The challenge with gun laws is that by definition criminals do not follow the law," Rubio spokesman Alex Conant said Dec. 17. "For example, Connecticut's gun laws, some of the strictest in the nation, were not able to prevent this atrocity. Nevertheless, he supports a serious and comprehensive study of our laws to find new and better ways to prevent any more mass shootings."

His measured response added hope to those who thought the tragedy would spur action, or at least a serious discussion. In a Political Connections interview he even said he could support closing the gun show loophole with universal background checks.

Compare that with the fierce reaction the Florida Republican offered when President Obama offered up his gun control proposals. "President Obama is targeting the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens instead of seriously addressing the real underlying causes of such violence. … President Obama's frustration with our republic and the way it works doesn't give him license to ignore the Constitution. … As a strong defender of the 2nd Amendment, I will oppose the President's attempts to undermine Americans' constitutional right to bear arms."

On Fox News, Rubio accused Obama of lacking "guts" to admit he "is not a believer in the 2nd Amendment." Rubio hasn't shied from criticizing the president but those words seemed especially aggressive.

Why the sudden, hard change in tone?

Well you might look to Internet forums for some clues. The Dec. 17 statement drew fierce opposition among gun-rights enthusiasts who questioned Rubio's fidelity to their cause. Groups have also been calling and emailing lawmakers to demand they oppose any new gun control. Whatever the case, Rubio is not open to changing laws. Conant said despite what seemed like Rubio's openness to universal background checks, he does not support them.

"What he was referring to in the (Political Connections) interview is encouraging people to get concealed weapon permits like we do in Florida. It requires you to learn gun safety and undergo a background check."

Alex Leary contributed to this week's Buzz. Adam C. Smith can be reached at

Winner of the week

Reagan the rescue lab. Nobody has seen the dog Gov. Rick Scott adopted during his 2010 campaign and then returned because it was causing problems in the Governor's Mansion. But a TV station reports that he is now happily living on a ranch.

Loser of the week

Gov. Rick Scott's PR team. It's public relations 101: Dissembling, stonewalling and barking at reporters is no way to kill a story. Instead of simply explaining what happened to the adopted dog Scott touted to the public, his team helped turn what should have been a couple paragraphs at best into a front-page story.

Buzz: Crist won't reveal 2010 gubernatorial choice 01/19/13 [Last modified: Saturday, January 19, 2013 8:54pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Amy Foster is running for reelection to St. Pete City Council


    Four weeks remain before the qualifying period ends for St. Petersburg’s mayoral and City Council races, but one question has been formally answered.

    Amy Foster is running for reelection.

    Amy Foster is officially running for reelection
  2. Departing fifth graders at Booker T. Washington Elementary leave lessons for their peers


    TAMPA — Teaching kindergarteners how to make slime seems like a good idea — when you're 12.

    From left, Tayvon Scott, 6, Arion Taylor, 9, and Nazir Anderson, 6, play with globs of slime they created from a science experiment taught by the Darius Troupe, a fifth-grader at Booker T. Washington Elementary School in Tampa. Students at Booker T. Washington Elementary School spent a "Day of Service" teaching their peers in a class exercise on May 24, 2017. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  3. Tampa is 15th-most popular city to move to with U-Haul


    TAMPA —Tampa is undoubtedly a destination point, at least according to U-Haul.

    Tampa is the No. 15 destination for people moving with U-Haul trucks. | Times file photo
  4. Bucs WR DeSean Jackson knows only one direction: full speed ahead


    TAMPA — DeSean Jackson is the "1."

    Actually, Jackson, the Bucs' latest weapon for quarterback Jameis Winston, with his blazing speed and game-changing splash plays, wears No. 11 in games.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson participates in an "open OTA practice" at One Buc Place, the team's training facility, in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, May 23, 2017.
  5. Karen Bail, who helped Gibbs kids get to Broadway, retires


    ST. PETERSBURG — When neatnicks retire, they leave no trace behind. Their desks are clean, like a runway after the plane has taken off.

    Retiring musical theatre teacher Karen Bail warms up seniors Jonathan O'Brien, left, as Juan Peron and Addam Setzer as Che Guevara before the dress rehearsal of Pinellas County Center for the Arts (PCCA) magnet program's production of "Evita" at Gibbs High School in St. Petersburg, FL,  April 24, 2017.  The Andrew Lloyd Webber musical ran for three days in April at the school and was PCCA's last play of the year. CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times