Proud liberal Nan Rich keeps going

click to enlarge Proudly unrepentant liberal Nan Rich keeps going - Kevin Tighe
Kevin Tighe
Proudly unrepentant liberal Nan Rich keeps going

A Quinnipiac poll r
eleased last week showed Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nan Rich trailing Rick Scott in a one-on-one matchup 41-34 percent, her worst performance in that poll since Quinnipiac began listing her in their Florida surveys over the last year. Perhaps more damning was the fact that a walloping 83 percent of voters surveyed said they still didn't know that much about Rich, who represented Broward County in the Florida Legislature from 2000-2012.

But Rich keeps on keeping on. On Thursday night she spoke at the Pinellas County Democratic Committee's monthly meeting at the St.Petersburg-Clearwater Marriott, where she demonstrated her Democratic Party bona fides that frankly should intimidate Charlie Crist supporters if the two ever got into a debate, which appears increasingly unlikely a month before the August 26 primary.

"My opponent has an A plus (grade) from the gun lobby, I have an F, and I’m proud of it," she said of her ranking from the NRA. She boasted about how her record was graded lower than fellow Democrats in the Legislature like Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Anne Gannon and Susan Booker, and once asked lobbyist Marion Hammer why that was the case. "She said 'you file bills. You stand up and file amendments and talk about it,'" Rich recounted with pride.

Charlie Crist's "evolution" on a number of core issues that concern Democratic voters provides plenty of cannon fodder for other candidates, and the former Senate Minority Leader refers to what she calls flip-flops with ease. "You need a governor who is pro-choice through and through, not changing their positions, but in their heart and soul," she said with obvious conviction.

Florida’s Constitution requires that justices retire on their 70th birthdays, or at the end of their six-year term, whichever is later. That means the next governor could select as many as four justices to the Supreme Court, the same number that Crist selected during his 2007-2011 term.

Crist's selection of James E.C. Perry in particular enraged social conservatives who considered the African-American jurist to be too liberal. Yet Rich is making an issue of Crist's selection of the two most conservative judges on the court, Charles Canady and Ricky Polston, specifically for being the only two justices who voted against allowing the lawsuit challenging the GOP-led Legislature's drawing of congressional and legislative districts to move forward. 

Regarding the environment under Rick Scott and the Republicans, Rich said, "I've been appalled by what's happened with growth management laws. SB 360 was a horrible piece of legislation that rolled back growth management." That 2011 bill reduced state oversight on development approvals, giving cities and counties more control over development decisions and whether to charge developers for roads, parks and schools. 

Rich's final words to the audience were "I'm proud of my record and I’ll stand by it," making any political junkie crave that one-on-one debate with Crist that Florida voters have said overwhelmingly they'd like to see, but probably won't.

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