Charlie Crist takes a risk in calling for special session on offshore drilling

Already, Florida Democrats are discussing other possible subjects that could be on the agenda in two weeks time, such as ethics reform, which Crist had said earlier this year he would actually deserved to be reviewed.

Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink is already thinking about other topics, as she said in a statement:

"I commend the Governor for agreeing to call for a special session to ban near beach oil drilling, despite the resistance from special interests and some members of the Legislature.  In addition to banning near beach drilling, the special session should also tackle the urgent needs for our business owners and state, including much-needed small business relief, a more streamlined claims process, and the creation of an environmental endowment for additional research."

How will other Florida Republicans react?  It's actually put them on the spot.  If they want to actively argue for the possibility of offshore drilling (a la Mike Haridopolos and Dean Cannon through the past year), they've got their opportunity.  Though it should be noted that those two previously gung-ho drilling supporters have said in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon spill that any plans to have drilling in Florida's waters would be dead on arrival for some time to come, or at least not until after they finish their terms leading the Senate and House, respectively.

Earlier today we chastised Governor Charlie Crist for his failure to strive to bring about change when it comes to environmental initiatives over the past year, so we've got to give him props for sacking up and calling this afternoon for a special session on discussing a constitutional amendment on banning offshore drilling, to take place July 20-23.

According to Steve Bosquet of the St. Pete Times, the Governor realizes that part of his job is to lead, and not follow:

"I feel a compelling duty to protect Florida," Crist told reporters. "And I'm going to be governor for about six more months, and I think I wouldn't be doing my duty as governor if I did not call for this special session."

Critics of the Governor had questioned why he had said in the past he supported the proposal, initially brought up in the House by St. Pete Democrat Rick Kriseman and Sarasota Representative Keith Fitzgerald, but hadn't called for the special session to make it happen. Longtime Tallahassee observers have commented that a special session is never called unless everybody knows what's going to happen, which makes Crist's call today truly risky.

The move is opposed by a number of House Republicans, in particular Speaker Larry Cretul, as well as rank and file Republicans who sent tweets questioning the timing of the move.  One misguided soul wrote that it had to be because a new poll showed him down against Senate rival Marco Rubio today.  However, the Rasmussen survey showed Crist actually in a statistical tie with the former House Speaker, which would indicate that the Governor would somehow be freaked out by such numbers.  Not likely considering it could ultimately blow up in his face.    Crist reacted to what no doubt we'll be howls of dissent from his various opponents:

"Politics has nothing to do with this," Crist said. "This has everything to do with doing what's right for a place that I love. I love Florida." The press event ended abruptly with Crist saying he did not know how House leaders would react because they have repeatedly refused to return his phone calls.

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