In 2002, Charlie Crist was elected Attorney General of Florida. He was a Republican. Like most Attorney Generals elected in other states, he had eyes on a larger goal. In 2006, Crist was elected Governor of Florida. He was a Republican. He decided to not run for re-election in 2010, choosing instead to run for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate. He initially was leading in the polls but was eventually overtaken by young upstart Marco Rubio. Rubio was part of the TEA Party wave in 2010. His Machiavellian grasp on politics surely surprised everyone. Rubio, later, stated that if you need to be the most conservative to be elected, you decide to be the most conservative. This isn't about Rubio. This is about Crist. While losing, Crist decided to leave the Republican Party. He, later, determined that the reason for leaving the Republican Party was because of the extreme racism of the political party. This became an ex post facto reason for leaving the party. Some have attributed his reason to leaving the Republican Party because he's a sore loser. He decided to run as an independent without changing his political party. In the general election, he played spoiler, winning 30% of the vote compared to 49% for Rubio and only 20% for the Democratic nominee.
The claim that Crist left the Republican Party because he was a sore loser instead of the extreme racism that he claimed was the reason he left struck me as odd. At the Republican Governor's Association in 2008, Crist stated, "the party can no longer hope to reach Hispanics, African Americans and other minority groups - we need to just do it. Embracing cultures and lifestyles will make us a better party and better leaders." In 2010, Crist lost to one of the few Hispanic or "other minority groups" in the Republican Party. It is possible that Crist decided that the dog whistles of the TEA Party and the Republican Party was too much for Crist. I think it's at least slightly possible that Crist was not a fan of where the Republican Party was going in 2010. Seeing what the party has shown in the last 4 years, it's not, as if, we can say that Crist wasn't right about the racism in the Republican Party.
In the documentary Outrage!, acclaimed filmmaker Kirby Dick and a prominent blogger accuse Crist of being gay and deciding to make laws discriminating against gay people. I'm not really sure if it is ever ok to out someone for their sexuality, so I had numerous problems with the documentary. The philosophical question was whether it is acceptable to out someone based off the sexuality of the politician even if they'rein a position of power. The argument is that since they are the ones making the laws/rules, they should be subject to them and that the se politicians were merely covering themselves for their own indiscretions. Crist stated that he supported the Federal Marriage Amendment but by 2010, he had decided to support the right for gay couples to adopt in Florida. By the time Crist announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Governor in 2013, Crist had become an outspoken advocate for same-sex marriage. Is it because Crist actually supported same-sex marriage, or because he was gay (gasp), or because he read the political tea leaves?
Crist announced that he was running for the Democratic nomination for Governor in Florida in 2013. He decided to run against the very vulnerable incumbent Rick Scott. It is, of course more than likely, that had Crist decided to run in 2010, Scott would not have been elected governor in the first place. Crist is trying to rectify this in 2014. Many see Crist as a flip-flopper, perhaps rightfully so, but he stands a chance against the vulnerable incumbent. I like Crist's tanlines and his ability to politically camouflage himself with what he NOW believes. Crist is the politician of a new era where people are finally fed up with the coded racist, homophobic, xenophobic language of the past and are willing to embrace a politician who leaves that life. While Crist isn't perfect, he might be exactly what Florida needs.