by Javier ManjarresThe big news last week about former Governor and failed U.S. Senate candidate Charlie Crist’s $1000 donation to Congressman Allen West’s Democrat challenger Patrick Murphy wasn’t really as newsworthy as some suggested simply because the only two things consistent about Charlie Crist’s political career have been his inconsistency and his opportunism. During the last days of the 2008 election cycle, Crist openly endorsed West when Crist was in his ‘devout Conservative Republican’ mode and could do no wrong amongst the party faithful. One can only imagine what these so-called party faithful are thinking now that Crist is supporting a Democrat over their ‘beloved’ Allen West?
Crist’s cronies showed little support for West in 2008, but in 2010 they all had their epiphany and rallied behind him while at the same time this cabal was trying to take down Marco in his primary race against Crist. Those of us who sat in on lunch meetings and telephone conversations in which persuasive pleas were made asking Rubio to run for another office would know all about this.
It is no secret that Governor Crist’s strongest support came from the state’s capital of squishy Republicans, Broward County. The local Republican Party has always been a sort of ‘gatekeeper’ for Crist and his cronies with their gestapo style tactics- attempting to shut constituents up, endorsing Crist over another viable Republican candidate, and even trying to block a straw poll between Crist and now Senator Marco Rubio. If you are wondering if times have changed with the new leadership at the helm of the Broward Republican Party, the answer is no. The new Chairman of the County GOP had told several members of the Committee that “Allen West can’t win because he is black” and that the district would not elect a black man. Mind you, this is the same Chairman that said that “Rubio will never reach 40% approval” among Republicans and that, “Charlie is too strong and has the name recognition.”
It was ironic hypocrisy at its finest when all of these pretenders fell over themselves for that Rubio photo op and handshake just to be able to say that they supported Rubio- but only after Crist betrayed them all again, and ran as an Independent. But perhaps the most disturbing thing about the Crist’s Independent run is the fact that 1.6 million Floridians voted for him- many who voted were Republicans.
As the 2012 election cycle begins, the same Congressional seats are up for election along with the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Democrat Bill Nelson. West’s Congressional seat will be defended at all costs by all of the various Republican factions regardless of who they’ve supported in elections past. However, the Senate race in question could be another story in the sense that it could very well re-open the existing divide between the Crist and Rubio faithful. Here is the rub- former Senator George LeMieux was Crist’s Chief of Staff and BFF while Crist was still Republican. But LeMieux has continued to distance himself from Crist, with good reason, but many still question whether or not LeMieux holds many of the same empty values that Crist does. Senator LeMieux had a decent voting record in the Senate, minus the Food Bill and the “TARP II” bailout votes.
Many of Crist’s Broward supporters currently sit on the executive board, so it’s not unreasonable to speculate that ‘the fix might be in’ for the LeMieux campaign over the other Republican hopefuls, as the local GOP apparatus still has those Crist holdovers who are close to Senator LeMieux. But yet another angle is that many of those Crist cronies have great respect and admiration for probable Senate candidate Adam Hasner while he was in the Florida House of Representatives. Florida State Senator Mike Haridopolos, who has just raised $2.6Million in donations, could be the beneficiary of a potential slugfest between LeMieux and Hasner supporters. Haridopolos is also from East Central Florida and with his strong base of support throughout the “I-4 Corridor” and throughout Central and Northeast Florida, could silently pick up scores of votes away from Hasner and LeMieux were this race to get unnecessarily ugly.
Haridopolos does have to get through the Florida Legislative Session, which includes balancing the state budget and figuring out a solution to the contentious illegal immigration issue that has been somewhat problematic for him thus far. If a ‘clean’ E-Verify bill, which is not the ‘Arizona style’ bill that Floridians asked for last year is not voted on in the Senate this session, Haridopolos can all but kiss his Senate candidacy goodbye, regardless of how much money he raises.
The plot continues to thicken. Hasner will probably be announcing within the next couple of months, and dark-horse candidate Mike McCallister could prove to be a spoiler in the crowded race. The Republican vote will surely be split- the question is in whose favor?