Mitch Perry Report 7.3-4.14: What will make the difference in Florida's gubernatorial election?


Charlie Crist made an appearance on MSNBC's "The Ed Show" with Ed Schultz last night, where he defended the choice of his wife Carole Rome not to release her tax returns, and mostly used the time to assail Rick Scott, calling his tenure as governor a "nightmare, Tea Party administration."

One of the headlines, of course, was the White House Council of Economic Advisers report  that Medicaid expansion would create 63,000 jobs in Florida if the state would accept the plan offered by the Obama administration. The Democratic gubernatorial candidate called it a "big issue," and indeed has been making an issue of it since entering the race last year.

Crist defended Rome's reluctance to release her tax forms by saying that "women have a right to choose."

The discussion made me think about what truly might be the game-changing issues for voters this fall. A lot of accusations have arisen (remember the one that Rick Scott was "anti-Hispanic"?) that seemed like a big deal at the time, but have usually faded away. But they can make a difference.

Carole Rome's tax returns seem to be in the category of something we probably won't even remember by Labor Day (unless she does something negative to bring attention to herself). But Medicaid expansion could be a big factor.

What about Crist's stance on Cuba? Probably not a big deal one way or another. But what if he had actually traveled to Cuba later this month, as it appeared he would? Obviously, folks in Cristworld believed the trip would hurt more than help and dropped the matter.

And what about things that haven't happened, like Charlie Crist not running for governor in 2010, or the fact that the economy hasn't collapsed but is doing better now than it was when he left the scene? Of course, at the time he was governor, Florida and the country were in the depths of the worst recession since the Great Depression.

And what about Scott rejecting the high-speed rail train that would have run from Orlando to Tampa? A lot of folks in the I-4 corridor are still smarting about that, more than three years after he announced that he would reject the $2.4 billion in federal stimulus funds. That rejection was also considered to be a job killer and a concession to Tea Party forces in Florida. Crist thinks this issue is a winner for him, which is why he mentioned it yet again in his short stint on MSNBC last night. 

This 4th of July marks exactly four months to go before Florida voters decide. 

In other news…

As a political reporter who likes competitive elections, it's intriguing to hear the confidence flowing from Democrat Alan Cohn in the still-Republican friendly CD15 race where he is challenging Republican Dennis Ross this fall. Cohn believes he has a shot if he gets his base out — but that's a big if.

And CL spoke with Tampa City Councilwoman Lisa Montelione earlier this week. Mark her as another skeptic regarding the recent transit news in Hillsborough County.

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