The Party's Over:
How the Extreme Right Hijacked the GOP and I Became a Democrat
by Charlie Crist
(Click for Amazon book review)
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from The Party's Over, by Charlie Crist (number of quotes indicated):
- Bobby Jindal (1) Louisiana Republican Governor
- Charlie Crist (35) Florida Democratic Governor Challenger
- George LeMieux (1) 2012 Republican Primary Challenger Florida
- Jeb Bush (7) Florida Republican Governor
- Marco Rubio (2) Republican Senator (FL)
- Mel Martinez (1) Cabinet-2005
- Rick Scott (3) Florida Republican Governor
OR click on an issue category below for a subset.
OnTheIssues.org BOOK REVIEW:
This book is the story of Charlie Crist's migration from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party. His rationale, stated right up front in the Introduction (p. 3), is that "Ronald Reagan, the man whose optimism inspired me to enter politics, famously said that he didn't leave the Democratic Party, but the party left him. Well, listen, I can relate. I didn't leave the Republican Party. It left me." Crist details throughout the book that the key reason he ran for Senate as an Independent in 2010 is because of GOP hyper-partisanship: "I couldn't shake the feeling that the great middle of the Republican Party had somehow evaporated; that decent, solid, middle-of-the-road Republicans had somehow been replaced by a new breed--narrower, more rigid, less generous, and more extreme."
That all sounds very noble, but of course there's a more pragmatic rationale too: In 2010, Crist was running against Marco Rubio in the Senate GOP primary, and was losing to the Tea Party favorite. (Crist lost in the 3-way general election, with Rep. Kendrick Meek running under the Democratic banner). And now in 2014, Crist switched to Democrat because he could not win back his gubernatorial seat as an independent, so he's using the Democratic Party apparatus to fight his gubernatorial successor, Rick Scott, another Tea Party favorite. In other words, Crist's migration from Republican to Independent to Democrat is mostly about fighting the Tea Party.
Crist attributes his loss to Sen. Rubio to "The Hug," when as Governor of Florida, Crist welcomed President Obama to Florida as part of Obama's tour pushing the 2009 economic stimulus package, and the President briefly embraced Crist as Obama was taking the stage to speak after Crist's introduction. As Crist describes it: "As hugs go, it wasn't anything special. It was over in a second--less than that. I didn't think a thing as it was happening. But that simple gesture ended my career as a viable Republican politician. It changed the rest of my life." (p. 158). Marco Rubio used "The Hug" in an anti-Crist campaign website in 2010: "On November 3, the Rubio campaign launched a new website, www.CharlieAndObama.com. The home page featured a photo of me welcoming the president in Fort Myers, leaning in for our brief grab-and-go. 'Get the picture?' the caption read." (p. 203).
While we don't deny that "The Hug" changed Crist's life and was instrumental in his migration to Democrat, it did not lose him the race against Rubio. Senator Rubio was then -- and still is -- the Tea Party darling, and a very attractive candidate beyond the Tea Party too (he's Hispanic in a state with a large Hispanic voting population). And Rubio is not an extremist, as Crist portrays as his reason for leaving the Republicans; Rubio is a moderate on immigration and on Social Security, among other issues; our VoteMatch rating describes Rubio as a "Populist-Leaning Conservative". Crist's new opponent in 2014, Governor Rick Scott, is more accurately described by Crist as an extremist too.
Crist has a lot to say about the 2000 election (when George W. Bush beat Al Gore for the presidency, amid widespread accusations of voting irregularities and intentional voter list reductions), at which time he was serving as state education commissioner. That means he had nothing to do with what he calls "the debacle of 2000" (p. 91) but he had a front-row seat on the sidelines. Crist writes, "The echoes of the 2000 election would bounce around Florida for many years to come... I developed a whole new appreciation for the importance of fair and competent elections. And I vowed, if I ever got the chance, I would do whatever I could to help Florida achieve a system we could all be proud of." This really is Crist's pet issue: he worked hard at it while Governor, and denounces what Jeb Bush and Rick Scott did while they were governors:
Overall, this book is a fine political biography for anyone interested in Florida politics, which includes Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, or in Tea Party politics, and how it may affect the 2016 election. If Crist wins the governor's seat back in 2014, you can be sure he will open up voting to a lot more voters in Florida -- which means that Florida will be a much more likely Democratic win in 2016. That's why national Democrats are pouring money into the Florida gubernatorial race, and why the race is of national interest. Read this book to see if you agree with us that Crist seems likely to pull it off!
- As Florida's Attorney General, Crist fought civil rights cases to expand the right to vote (pp. 55-6)
- As a Jeb Bush appointee, after 2000, Crist came out against Bush's all-electronic voting machines, calling for a paper trail (p. 93)
- Crist describes as racist the Florida law denying former felons the right to vote (p. 95); that was the key factor in the 2000 election (Katherine Harris removed anyone suspected of being a former felon from the voting lists, which even if done properly would exclude 30% of black men in Florida (p. 94); the black male vote would have given Florida to Gore).
- In 2005, Jeb Bush disallowed early voting in schools or churches (pp. 140-1); early voting was a key post-2000 reform, and Jeb cut back on most of the methods people actually used. Crist pushed those back into place after his election as Governor in 2006.
- In 2008, in the presidential election, Crist used gubernatorial executive powers to intervene in the middle of the early voting, to force expanded hours to reduce ridiculously long lines (many hours long; pp. 144-8). The partisanship expressed at that time -- that the voters benefiting from early voting were mostly Democrats, whom Republican officeholders didn't want to help vote -- was the source of much of Crist's accusations of hyper-partisanship among Republicans.
-- Jesse Gordon, editor-in-chief, OnTheIssues.org, April 2014
| OnTheIssues.org excerpts: (click on issues for details)
Charlie Crist: 1995: Opposed mandatory 24-hour waiting period for abortion.
Charlie Crist: Favors embryonic stem cell research.
Charlie Crist: I'm pro-life, but stay out of other people's lives.
Jeb Bush: Terri Schiavo case: ordered feeding tube reinserted.
Budget & Economy|
Charlie Crist: 2006: canceled high-priced Governor's Inaugural Ball.
Charlie Crist: 2009 stimulus saved teacher & cop jobs; and revived economy.
Jeb Bush: $787B economic plan: whole lot of spending & not stimulative.
Jeb Bush: Stimulus more related to liberal agenda than stimulus.
Charlie Crist: Civil rights is an American value that all should embrace.
Charlie Crist: 2006: Came out for civil unions; denied rumors he was gay.
Charlie Crist: 2006: Supported civil unions en route to gay marriage.
Charlie Crist: Diversity is one of our strengths in America.
Charlie Crist: 1978: Florida State murders taught empathy for victims.
Charlie Crist: 1993: Sponsored STOP law: Stop Turning Out Prisoners.
Charlie Crist: "Chain Gang Charlie": reinstitute prisoner labor on highways.
Charlie Crist: Supports charter schools and standardized testing.
Charlie Crist: Some public school teachers should earn $100,000.
Charlie Crist: National testing mostly favors for-profit testing firms.
Jeb Bush: Ed reform: reading scores improved; parents got more choices.
Energy & Oil|
Bobby Jindal: BP oil spill: $350M plan to dredge sand for barrier islands.
Charlie Crist: Reduce climate change by doing things we should do anyway.
Charlie Crist: BP oil spill made me oppose offshore oil drilling.
Charlie Crist: 1992: Elected to State Senate on pro-environment message.
Charlie Crist: Asked BP to pay $65M for tourism promotion, after oil spill.
Marco Rubio: Fix environment with free market, not government mandates.
Charlie Crist: Find a way to work with our international allies.
Charlie Crist: Require paper backup for all electronic voting machines.
Charlie Crist: Give former felons a second chance at voting rights.
Jeb Bush: No conspiracy of hackers manipulating electronic voting.
Jeb Bush: 2005: Disallowed early voting in schools or churches.
Charlie Crist: Likes parts of ObamaCare but it's too big & too bureaucratic.
Rick Scott: Lead plaintiff in lawsuit to overturn healthcare reform.
Charlie Crist: Supports strong national defense.
Charlie Crist: 2008: I don't believe in torture.
George LeMieux: No path to citizenship until borders fully secured.
Charlie Crist: Sued Florida Power when they raised rates abruptly.
Charlie Crist: Supported $2.4B federal funding of I-4 corridor.
Rick Scott: Opposed $2.4B federal funding of I-4 corridor.
Principles & Values|
Charlie Crist: Original family name "Christodoulos", from Greek Cyprus.
Charlie Crist: 1966: Father won Pinellas County School Board seat.
Charlie Crist: Married at age 21; divorced soon after.
Charlie Crist: 1986: First campaign: lost State Senate primary runoff.
Charlie Crist: While Governor, married Carole Rome; called "First Fiancee".
Charlie Crist: Opposing anything the Democrats proposed--that wasn't my way.
Charlie Crist: AdWatch: not REPUBLICAN; not DEMOCRAT; but AMERICAN.
Jeb Bush: 1986: Appointed state secretary of commerce.
Mel Martinez: Born in Cuba; came to US in Operation Peter Pan at age 15.
Rick Scott: OpEd: reversed bipartisanship and excluded Democrats.
Charlie Crist: 2007: lowered property taxes by $33B over 5 years.
Marco Rubio: 2007: Replace all property taxes by adding 2.5% to sales tax.
The above quotations are from The Party's Over:
How the Extreme Right Hijacked the GOP and I Became a Democrat
by Charlie Crist.
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