Mitch Perry Report 6.24.14: Pressure building on Crist to debate Rich?

I was a bit dubious when Charlie Crist announced that he intended to go to Cuba this summer, fresh off the positive buzz he'd received after criticizing the U.S. economic embargo on the Communist island. Calling for the sanctions to end was one thing — but going to Cuba itself? Though it's hard to calculate whether it would have been an ultimate winner or loser for the once and possibly future governor, it's obvious that his brain trust came to the latter conclusion, and ultimately nixed what would have been an incredible media event, if nothing else. I have to admit I was looking forward to seeing how that would play out.

But Charlie's not going to Cuba, now. He's decided to remain in Florida presumably until November 4, when the voters will decide whether or not they want him to lead them over the course of the next four years. And now maybe he has time to debate Nan Rich? That's what the Miami Herald is demanding in an editorial this morning.

The paper asks simply, "What is Mr. Crist afraid of? Or is it arrogance? His refusal to debate the former legislator is unseemly and exclusionary. Of course, it’s politics at its worst." But the Herald also takes aim at the Florida Democratic Party, desperate to get one of its own into the governor's mansion after a 16-year drought.

In its quest to take back the governor’s mansion, state party officials have clammed up, remained neutral. Instead of taking a stand and pushing for a real primary race, they have, with their silence, already declared Mr. Crist “The One.”

There's no question that party leaders have been silent about advocating for a debate. The consensus apparently is that Rich would nick Crist for his lack of Democratic Party bona fides, and only hurt him going into the general (since he is expected to defeat her in the August 26 primary). But don't voters, or in this case, Democrats, want to see their ultimate candidate go through a little pain to earn their votes? We said it during the DCCC debacle in CD13 — a primary race is not the worst thing in the world. Look at what such a race did to strengthen an otherwise little-known guy named David Jolly in the GOP. There's still eight weeks to go until Aug. 26, plenty of time to set up at least one debate. Maybe Dems like Bill Nelson and/or Jim Davis will start speaking out for fairness, since they're hardly major advocates for a Crist candidacy.

Speaking of the governor's race, the Republican Party of Florida is smarting over the first ad the Democrats have put up on state-wide TV showcasing golden oldie footage (Rick Scott's got hair!) of Scott taking a deposition. The footage is not, however, from the case that the Dems have tried to revive this summer, the one that led HCA/Columbia, which Scott ran in the ’80s and ’90s, to be fined a record amount for Medicaid and Medicare fraud. The RPOF claims that the ad is misleading, and their attorney is asking television stations throughout the state to stop airing it.

And how about that Jeb Bush? Although it's still ridiculously early to talk presidential politics, the fact of the matter is all of the serious candidates will be declaring their candidacies within the next half-year. And poll results in one early voting state — Iowa  — do not augur well for the former Florida governor.

Scroll to read more News Feature articles


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.