Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Politics

Welcome to the NFL, Charlie Crist

Charlie Crist's campaign in recent days has been in full outrage mode, suggesting that Gov. Rick Scott and his allies have hit "a new low" in sleazy, negative campaigning. Why?

Because Scott's Let's Get to Work Committee released an ad Wednesday that featured an image of former first lady Carole Crist and noting that the Crists are declining to release her tax returns. "What's he hiding?" the ad asks. Crist campaign adviser Kevin Cate contends that targeting a candidate's spouse in a TV ad is unprecedented in Florida and beyond the pale.

But why shouldn't the public have a look at the investments of the woman Crist says has the greatest influence on his decisionmaking? Heck, why isn't the Crist campaign demanding to see more disclosure of the trusts Scott put under the control of his wife?

Team Crist cried foul last week when Progressive Choice Florida, widely believed to be a GOP front group helping Scott, started airing radio ads that the Crist campaign claims associates Crist with slavery.

"While Crist was coddling the gun lobby, he was cracking down on us," the ad says. "Passing maximum sentencing laws. Signing the nation's harshest marijuana laws. And enacting the country's strictest penalties against nonviolent offenders — many of whom just happen to be black."

It's a tough spot, but Crist certainly didn't mind when the Times labeled him "Chain Gang Charlie" in the early 1990s, when he wasn't courting African-American voters. He embraced the label then, and he owns it today.

Back in 1995, Florida House Speaker Peter Wallace, D-St. Petersburg, called the idea of chain gangs in Florida "degrading and disgusting."

After watching images of newly reinstituted chain gangs in Alabama, Wallace (now a Crist supporter) said this: "To me, it brought back images of slavery, and it's just unacceptable."

This reminds us of something a veteran Republican pol named Charlie Crist once said to Marco Rubio when he was complaining about tough attacks: Welcome to the NFL.

Bush fundraiser

Former Gov. Jeb Bush will hold a fundraiser in Tampa for a number of U.S. Senate candidates, continuing to wade into elections around the country.

The Sept. 23 event will be held for Cory Gardner of Colorado, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Monica Wehby of Oregon and Tom Cotton of Arkansas. "The event may also benefit the winner of the Aug. 26 Republican primary in Alaska," reports the Wall Street Journal.

Bush allies suggest it could aid him in a potential presidential run.

"I think it will help him make a decision about what he's going to do and to articulate the policies he thinks the country should be pursuing," fundraiser Al Hoffman told the Journal.

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, meanwhile, sent an email to his supporters to raise money for Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor, the Democrat that Cotton is trying to defeat.

Cruz's Core criticism

Bush's advocacy of the Common Core education standards continues to be a sore point among hard-core conservatives. And Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas did not hold back in bashing the standards during a recent GOP event in Miami, Bush's base. "We need to repeal every word of Common Core," Cruz said to sustained applause.

The event for the Miami-Dade GOP was Cruz's fourth stop in Florida this year. He was in Sarasota and Palm Beach in February and Naples in April. There's talk in Jacksonville for getting him there early next year, when the presidential race will be heating up.

Deputy Whip Ross

Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, has been named a senior deputy whip under newly elected House Whip Steve Scalise, who moved up amid Majority Leader Eric Cantor's stunning primary loss in Virginia.

Nan Rich interview

Nan Rich may have little name recognition and even less campaign money, but she insists that she, not Crist, is the stronger Democrat to take on Scott.

"The Democrats would come out and be more excited to have a progressive Democrat running, and I think I would mobilize and motivate the base better," the former South Florida state senator says in a Political Connections interview airing today on Bay News 9.

What's more, she argues, former Republican Crist would likely energize more Republicans to turn out to defeat him, while Rich would energize voters eager to elect Florida's first female governor.

As it stands, Rich appears to be an extreme long shot to beat Crist in the primary, and she laments in the Political Connections interview that the national and state Democratic parties have been "putting their finger on the scale" in favor of Crist.

Political Connections airs at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.

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