by Mitch Perry
There is no doubt that Charlie Crist is vulnerable to all sorts of attacks regarding his various policy flip-flops on major issues as he runs as a Democrat for governor. In fact, he's been subject to such attacks for months before he declared his candidacy last fall by the Republican Party of Florida. Crist is a flawed candidate, no question. But in case you forgot, so is Rick Scott.
If nothing else, the new Quinnpiac Poll released this morning that shows Crist up 46-38 percent over Scott should quell the hysteria in some quarters that Crist's campaign is blowing up and the continuing in unemployment numbers is hailing a Scott comeback. The poll also shows by a 54-38 percent margin, Floridians do not believe Scott should come back for a second term.
And Crist appears ready to go on the offensive. The published remarks coming out of his appearance at the Associated Press' annual planning seminar for reporters in Tallahassee were somewhat breathtaking as he brought up Scott's checkered past with his former health care concern HCA, and said state voters wouldn't be fooled a second time this fall.
It'd be crass to say this is "good stuff" for a political campaign, because the stakes are simply too high to score it like a football game. But that's sort of how our campaigns go these days. There will be lots and lots of trash talk. But there's no question that the choice will be stark come November.
Of course the poll may allow Crist to continue to blow off his only Democratic gubernatorial challenger, former Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich. Although Crist said he would consider debating Rich when he entered the race last fall, he's now saying that the "people's business" doesn't include debates. Naturally, Rich disagrees, and maintains that Crist will ultimately have to engage in a candidates forum at some point before the August primary election.
In Pinellas County local politics, the big news this week is the announcement that Susan Latvala will not run for re-election this fall. Meanwhile, one of her GOP colleagues on the board, Norm Roche, faces a primary challenge this fall from former state legislator Ed Hooper. The winner takes on Democrat Pat Gerard, the mayor of Largo. Cl caught up with Gerard over the weekend, where she discussed the issues she'll be running on this fall.
There was a 75-minute long news conference in West Tampa yesterday, where Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Housing Authority Director Jerome Ryans led the discussion of an an extremely ambitious plan to redevelop what is now being called the West Bank of the Hillsborough River. One thing is for certain - if the plan ever happens, it won't be completed anytime soon.