The race to determine who becomes the next governor of Florida has stymied pollsters and pundits because by all accounts, the race as of Election Day is still a tossup. Newspaper politicos have made a big deal out of the negative ads and the money spent. Nationally, Republicans are favored to gain more than Democrats, so there isn’t a lot of enthusiasm from the press gallery right now—the party media favors is going through a rough patch.
Personally I think the GOP wins no matter who takes the governor’s seat.
It’s ironic that the polls are so close. Florida has prospered under Gov. Rick Scott’s stewardship, and his record contrasts sharply with that of Crist who left office to try for a US Senate seat. Scott picked up the reins as the state and the country struggled in the aftermath of the financial meltdown, and although he wasn’t a party insider, Republicans ultimately came to appreciate the job he’s done.
Crist’s only term as governor was unacceptable. Crist is a more adept politician and media hound; Scott is more skilled at actually running the state. Crist is not a jobs magnet. Scott is.
MORE THAN 2.8 MILLION VOTES ALREADY CAST
Florida’s governor will be a significant force in the politics of 2016 when Americans will choose a new president. The Sunshine State currently lists 11,717,746 registered voters. Of those, 4,133,350 are Republicans and 4,621,791 are Democrats. Falling under ‘Other’ parties: 2,962,605.
In 2010, less than half of the state’s voters turned out—49 percent. Early voting makes it so easy to vote it’s impossible to understand why people don’t vote. In this cycle, The Tampa Bay Times said, “More than 2.8 million Floridians already have voted by mail or at early voting locations, more than half the number of people who cast ballots in the last race for governor.”
There’s a marijuana initiative on Florida’s ballot, expanding the use of the herb for medicinal purposes. In a bizarre government moment, marijuana was included on the federal list of Schedule 1 drugs alongside heroin and LSD. Methamphetamine is on Schedule 2, and so is cocaine. When someone figures out how that happened, I’d love to hear the story.
The GOP misses a sizable opportunity when it comes to the federal drug schedule. It should be revamped. Those in low income quintiles are at a singular disadvantage in the criminal justice system when it comes to drugs. That would be a great starting point to broaden that “big tent” my party likes to claim.
On the marijuana initiative, both sides of the aisle applied the fear factor. The right predicted Armageddon if it passes with 60 percent approval. The left promised benefits to seriously ill people while some surrogates for Charlie Crist gave talks to young adults who seemed to think the initiative would legalize the herb. It wouldn’t.
Republicans grumbled about the lure of the initiative as a voter turnout tool for Crist.
What would please me is for Scott to win the election and the marijuana initiative to pass as well. Imagine the looks on Democrat strategists’ faces if that were to happen. If the legislature can’t figure out how to deal with regulating a medicinal herb, we’re in serious trouble, but that’s an argument for another day.
CAN TOM STEYER BUY FLORIDA FOR THE DEMS?
Campaigns for both Crist and Scott poured tons of money into this race. Crist hammered Scott for his wealth while the former governor who was once a Republican seemed to miss the fact he’s not exactly middle class. Crist’s wife is also very well set, so much so that she refused to release her tax returns.
The Tampa Bay Times noted: “Crist and his allies, including Steyer’s NextGen Climate political action committee, have spent about $36 million since their TV campaign began in July.”
We have to ask ourselves whether Tom Steyer can buy Florida for the Democrats. Both debate moderators and media failed to drill Crist on his energy plans, and whether he’ll march lockstep with extremists like Steyer who push the concept of manmade global warming (now called ‘climate change’ and formerly called ‘global cooling’).
Steyer only dislikes fossil fuels if you and I need them; he likes them for making money for himself.
If Steyer’s philosophy determines Florida’s energy policy, every Floridian will pay the price. You’d think at least one moderator or “reporter” would’ve quizzed Crist about that. Not so. Crist the Democrat largely got softball questions from media.
TURNOUT AND CONSEQUENCES
On Saturday I went with my family to vote at the library near our house, and the whole process took minutes. Our county elections supervisor mails out sample ballots, and we mark them before voting. There were no lines that day, and there didn’t seem to be any problems. While we were there, a steady but light stream of people continued to file in.
Are the polls really as tight as media claim? Which party will manage to get voters off the couch and to the polls? Will the handful of leftwing mega-districts in south Florida dominate the outcome? No one seems to know.
A curious thought occurred to me late last night as I was reading over election data. If Crist did win, it would actually be a negative for Democrats come 2016. Crist would be under a microscope from the day he took office, and his skills as governor were less than acceptable the last go ‘round. Scott set the benchmark high. Nothing would be worse for Dems in 2016 than their party’s governor taking Florida backwards. Crist would do that—he can’t help himself.
In some ways, the GOP wins either way in Florida today.
Floridians won’t win, however, if they choose a self-serving politico like Crist over a successful governor like Scott.
Once the votes are counted, the big season commences because tomorrow is the first day of the 2016 cycle. You can bet both parties are keenly aware of that.
Join me tonight as I help track races from the studio at WBOB Radio (600 AM; 100.3 FM). Tony Mann, producer of the Cindy Graves Radio Show will be there too.
(Analysis by Kay B. Day/Nov. 4, 2014)
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