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Liberalism: Why think when you can “feel”?

Crist vetoes education bill he helped shape, thus setting stage for Independent run

For those of you outside of FL, let me set the stage here for you:

Yesterday, Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed Senate Bill 6, which was a bill aimed at merit pay for teachers.  The bill was massively popular among Republicans, massively unpopular among Democrats, and I am led to believe most teachers, regardless of their political affiliations, were vehemently opposed to the language of the bill.  (Sidebar: I know teachers who are conservative, and many of them had grave reservations about the bill’s text, not the intent.)  Anywho, this isn’t a post about the merits of SB6, so allow me to continue…

Crist has been getting pummeled by Marco Rubio in the FL GOP Senate primary polls.  Crist went from being +30% last year to -30% now.  He has said repeatedly that he wasn’t going to become an independent, preferring to tough it out in the Republican primary.  But there are indications that he may pull a Joe Lieberman and switch anyway.

First, it was speculated that by vetoing a bill that he himself had great input in crafting, Crist would essentially be ending his career in the GOP.  He did indeed veto the bill.  After all, if you are desperately craving Independent street cred, how better to get some of it than to screw one of your party’s top pet projects?

Secondly, a Quinnipiac poll (not exactly the most reliable polling history in the world) yesterday showed Crist with a statistically insignificant lead over Rubio and Meek in a three-way race in November.  Granted, it is a single poll and taken as a snapshot in time, but given Crist’s implosion and no relief in sight, any glimmer of hope will be embraced by him.

Finally, and possibly most significant, the massively popular former governor Jeb Bush has piled on Crist for his veto…

I am disappointed by the veto of Senate Bill 6. By taking this action, Governor Crist has jeopardized the ability of Florida to build on the progress of the last decade, which includes raising student achievement across the board, narrowing the achievement gap for poor and minority students, and improving graduation rates. Florida’s sustained improvement is the result of bold reforms that were challenging, controversial and sometimes even unpopular. Reform is hard work but without a commitment to change, Florida would not be 8th in the nation today.

…and former Senator Connie Mack, who had been chairing Crist’s Senate campaign, resigned after the veto:

Gov. Charlie Crist’s political mentor, former U.S. Sen. Connie Mack, resigned Thursday as Crist’s campaign chairman in his race for the U.S. Senate.

Mack wrote a terse, two-paragraph letter to his one-time protege that said Crist was wrong to veto a bill (SB 6) that would have made it easier to fire teachers and tie their pay to student test scores.

“As you know, I strongly disagree with your veto,” Mack wrote his fellow Republican. “Your veto I believe undermines our education system in Florida and the principles for which I have always stood.”

Mack went on to say that Crist’s decision to veto the bill was “unsupportable and wrong.”

“As you can understand, I can no longer serve as chairman for your campaign for the United States Senate,” Mack wrote.

A source for an Orlando Fox affiliate says that Crist will announce his party abandonment today:

Thursday, Governor Crist vetoed the controversial teacher merit pay bill, breaking with conservative ranks. Then the head of the Republican U.S. Senate Re-election Committee issued a warning to Crist telling him his career is over if he tries to run outside the GOP.

Dr. Foglesong said, “A person I know in the Charlie Crist campaign has told me Charlie Crist would veto the merit pay bill, and he did. Further, he said he would announce tomorrow, that’s Friday, that he would run as an independent.”

Fox 35’s Tracy Jacim asked, “Where is this supposed to happen?” Dr. Foglesong said, “South Florida.” Jacim asks, “Miami?” Foglesong said, “Yes.” Jacim asks, “How reliable is this source?” Foglesong replied, “I trust the source.”

Fox 35 contacted the Crist campaign staff by e-mail, and they would neither confirm nor deny this claim, and expressed surprise we were asking.

Florida law puts a deadline on when a candidate can announce for a Senate bid, and my understanding is that the deadline was in about two weeks.  Ergo, it was “now or never” for Gov. Oompa Loompa to jump ship.  But if Crist thinks the teachers union who is trumpeting his praises today will rally behind him as an independent instead of backing Democrat Kendrick Meek, then the tanning bed has fried his gourd more than I thought.

In my view (and only time will tell if this holds true), Crist is basically another Arlen Specter: a RINO who thought it would be good for his own ambitions and career to jump ship, only to find out that the ship he jumped onto…was the Titanic.

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April 16, 2010 - Posted by | Charlie Crist, Florida, Marco Rubio, public education

5 Comments »

  1. Good post and Good Riddance to Sir Tansalot!

    Comment by tnjack | April 16, 2010

  2. (Sidebar: I know teachers who are conservative, and many of them had grave reservations about the bill’s text, not the intent.)

    You said “teachers (plural) who are conservative”. I thought they were like Bigfoot, often heard of but actually non-existent.

    Comment by Lee | April 16, 2010

  3. Yes, we do exist, and there are a lot of us out there. However, this SB6 was flawed in its language. It was rammed down the state legislature not unlike health care in Washington. Secondly, it violated the state constitution in at least two ways. I’m actually impressed Crist had a pair and vetoed it. Now, it’s time for real educational reform to take place in Florida. There are many good ideas in the legislation that many teachers embrace, but the rest of it is crap written by those who have never been in a classroom and don’t understand or wish to understand child development and educational science.

    Comment by Steve | April 16, 2010

  4. Even in the Northeast, you’ll find a lot of teachers who think Republican and are tired of the feel good legislation that keeps them from doing an effective job. Merit pay still scares me since so many administrators have horrible managerial skills and school board members are in the end bosses.

    Comment by Alli | April 17, 2010

  5. We’ve had a sort of merit pay in Florida for the past 10 years. I’ve been fortunate enough to receive it for the past 10. It’s nothing to be scared of. However the problem we have in Florida, that was not addressed in the bill is the state following through on its promise of merit pay. ten years ago I got $1,800 bonus, and this year my students earned the highest scores and made the biggest gains my students ever produced and I got $700. This was not due to the economy because 3 years ago in good times, I only got $900, half of what I got seven years prior The reason was the state refusing to budget more money per year than they did 12 years ago for bonuses. As the number of teachers who met the standards rose, so my cut of the pie got smaller.
    The problems with the bill was not merit pay, teachers in Florida are hugely supportive of it. It was other ridiculous language that put burdens on the teachers, that we cannot be responsible for. Need I quote this one line from the bill, “Teachers are solely responsible for the education of the children of Florida.” According to the law, parents and more importantly students don’t have a stake in it. According to the law: I’m responsible the kid has enough food to eat, so he/she can learn. I’m responsible that the student has appropriate cloths to wear. I’m responsible that the kids are not on drugs.
    Thank God Crist vetoed this bill. Now maybe the Senate or House will hold hearings and invite teachers, parents and administrators, superintendants and school board members to have input on the legislation, something that State Senate did not do before.

    Comment by Steve | April 18, 2010


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