Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Role reversal puts Florida Gov. Crist in tracks of loser Tom Gallagher

Will Charlie Crist, left, repeat Tom Gallagher’s 2006 defeat?

Associated Press (2006)

Will Charlie Crist, left, repeat Tom Gallagher’s 2006 defeat?

When people talk about the threat Marco Rubio poses to Charlie Crist's Senate plans, Crist backers tend to invoke two words: Tom Gallagher. He was the last Republican who tried to win a GOP primary by hailing conservative principles and trying to depict Crist as too moderate.

"It's hard to get to the right of Chain Gang Charlie,'' Crist said, shortly before crushing Gallagher in that 2006 gubernatorial primary by more than 30 points.

This time, it's striking to see the similarities between the Crist of today and the Gallagher of 2006. Just like Gallagher did with Crist two years ago, Crist tried and failed to quickly shove aside former state House Speaker Rubio by overpowering him with GOP establishment support and fundraising prowess.

And just like Gallagher, a lifelong moderate who had supported tax increases, gun control and abortion rights and faced constant skepticism about his conservatism, Crist's attacks on excessive spending in Washington are constantly drawing scoffs from people who well remember Crist campaigning for passage of President Barack Obama's stimulus package.

"It gets hard to pass the straight-face test with voters, and especially with you reporters," said Brett Doster, who managed Gallagher's campaign and constantly struggled to overcome skepticism that Gallagher believed what he said. "I hate to say this, but Charlie is becoming the new Tom Gallagher."

Not so fast

On the campaign trail and in a radio ad, Crist notes that the Cato Institute awarded him an "A" in its fiscal report card for America's governors. But now the author of that report is batting down Crist's boasts.

"I am pleased that Crist values Cato's ratings because we work hard to make them accurate and nonpartisan. But as the report's author, I am concerned that the governor has fallen off the fiscal responsibility horse since the report was written in mid 2008,'' Chris Edwards, Cato's tax policy director wrote in an e-mail.

"In particular, Crist approved a huge $2.2 billion tax increase for the fiscal 2010 budget, even though he had promised that $12 billion in federal 'stimulus' money showered on Florida over three years would obviate the need for tax increases. About $1 billion of the tax increases are on cigarette consumers. … The rest of the increases are in the form of higher costs for often mandatory services, such as automobile registration, which is really just a sneaky form of tax increases."

Party establishment uniting behind Meek

More signals that Senate candidate Kendrick Meek is getting his party establishment to unite behind him: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink endorsed him, after having said she intended to stay neutral. So did U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, who had looked at running against Meek.

Dueling attorney general endorsements

The Democrats running for attorney general, state Sens. Dave Aronberg and Dan Gelber, appear to be chasing different sorts of endorsements. Aronberg has picked up a slew of sheriff's endorsements and last week one from the Fraternal Order of Police, Florida's second-largest police union.

Gelber has been doing better among key Democratic interest groups, most recently winning the endorsement of Florida's largest gay political group, Equality Florida. Gelber also picked up the Florida Education Association's "Champion of Education" award, which presumably makes him the clear favorite for winning the teachers union endorsement.

Crist too busy for Obama this time

Crist hasn't lived down the man-hug with Obama during the president's last trip to Florida, so it's no surprise the governor won't join Obama in DeSoto County Tuesday to hail Florida Power & Light's new solar plant. Crist said he'll be busy with a Cabinet meeting. He might have come up with a better excuse, however. When Obama came to Fort Myers in February, Crist skipped a Cabinet meeting (and lunch with Jeb Bush and other former governors) to be with the president.

Check out council candidates

St. Petersburg City Council candidates Leslie Curran and Pamella Settlegoode will be on Political Connections at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. today on Bay News 9.

Adam C. Smith can be reached at asmith@sptimes and is on Twitter at adamsmithtimes.


of the week

Larry Williams, Deveron Gibbons, Scott Wagman, Jamie Bennett. The more people see and hear of St. Petersburg mayoral candidates Bill Foster and Kathleen Ford, the more we lament that one of the also-rans failed to make it into the runoff.


of the week

Charlie Crist. So much for Gov. Crist's cakewalk into the U.S. Senate. Polls show Marco Rubio is closing the gap, even former conservative fans are turning on Crist (see Cato, right) and now come revelations about how little actual governing time Crist schedules. Now Crist has dispatched his chief of staff to help stem Rubio's momentum at a time when he could use all the horsepower available to actually govern Florida.

Role reversal puts Florida Gov. Crist in tracks of loser Tom Gallagher 10/24/09 [Last modified: Saturday, October 24, 2009 8:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Editorial: Scott should keep demanding better for seniors in nursing homes


    The horrific story of elderly Floridians dying from the heat in a Broward County nursing home after surviving Hurricane Irma grows more outrageous. Even as a ninth death has been reported, the nursing home blames the state and has filed a lawsuit challenging Gov. Rick Scott's move to prevent it from accepting new …

    Even as a ninth death has been reported, the nursing home blames the state and has filed a lawsuit challenging Gov. Rick Scott’s move to prevent it from accepting new patients or Medicaid payments.
  2. DCF announces $133 million in federal aid for low-income families who lost food during Irma


    An additional $133 million is being distributed to Florida low-income families to help replace food destroyed by Hurricane Irma, the Florida Department of Children and Families announced today.

    The United States Department of Agriculture has made $133 million available to Florida low-income families to help them replace food damaged during Hurricane Irma
  3. A meatless burger that tastes like meat? Ciccio Restaurants will serve the Impossible Burger.

    Food & Dining

    TAMPA — The most red-hot hamburger in the nation right now contains no meat.

    Luis Flores, executive chef at Ciccio Restaurant Group, prepares an Impossible Burger at Epicurean Hotel's Food Theatre. Impossible Burger is a plant-based burger that will launch on Sept. 27, 2017 in all the Ciccio Restaurant Group locations, except for Fresh Kitchen. "This burger caters to the carnivorous, not just the vegetarians" said Jeff Gigante, co-founder at Ciccio Restaurant Group. ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times
  4. Plan your weekend: Sept. 22-24: Buffyfest, Arcade Fire, Howl-O-Scream, Wanderlust 108 and 'Rent'


    Plan your weekend

    Pop show

    Florida Björkestra's Buffyfest: Pop culture meets pop music when the Florida Björkestra, a 20-piece alternative-classical ensemble that tributes ground-breaking pop artists, on Saturday will play with eight vocalists for "Once More with …

    The 20th anniversary tour of RENT, shown in 2016, comes to the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts Sept. 19-24, 2017. Photo by Carol Rosegg.
  5. Chris Archer, 25,000 Cubs fans and Tampa Bay's painful truth

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The biggest ovation inside Tropicana Field on Tuesday night was not for Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who was returning for the first time since managing the Rays.

    "W" flags fly in the stands after the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Rays Tuesday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]