The Debate About Debates for FL Governor: Crist is Wrong, Rich is Right

NanRich_CharlieCrist_RickScottIt is astounding that Charlie Crist continues his arrogant and presumptuous position that he does not feel the need to acknowledge his Democratic opponent Nan Rich. It is beyond insulting for the former-Republican-turned-Independent-turned-Democrat (what a mouthful) Crist to assume he does not have to debate in our party primary. A real leader does not run away, a real leader welcomes a debate on the issues.

But on May 21 in Orlando, the one-term Governor was asked at the Central Florida Tiger Bay Club once again if he would debate Nan Rich. Crist stated that Nan Rich was not his opponent, Rick Scott was. What?

Perhaps Charlie Crist still believes he is simply running in a Republican primary – where many of his previous positions and actions as an elected official would be more appropriate. But if Charlie Crist is now such a converted Democratic candidate, why is he not willing to defend those principles and issues in a statewide debate with Nan Rich?

It could be because Crist is a self-proclaimed “Jeb Bush Republican” (Crist even went farther calling himself the “heir of Jeb Bush“) Or maybe it’s because Crist rated his own conservatism by saying he is “about as conservative as you can get.” Could Charlie’s fear of a Democratic debate be connected to the fact that just like Rick Scott, Crist approved school vouchers, decimating public education? The list could go on and on but we’ll never know for sure until we have a Democratic Party debate for Governor. It begins to seem like Crist only feels comfortable attempting to debate a Republican like Rick Scott.

Meanwhile, Nan Rich is a lifelong Democrat who strives to become Florida’s first woman Governor. Nan Rich served in both the Florida House and Florida Senate for 12 years, directly taking on the devastating conservative policies of Charlie Crist and Rick Scott. Rich was the Democratic Leader in the Senate from 2010-2012, where she made history as the first female leader in the Senate – and she is poised to make history again as the first female Governor of Florida. Rich has also made it clear she is not getting out of the race, and it is time for Crist to give her the respect she deserves for her service to our party. That means not only acknowledging her as his primary opponent, but also debating Nan Rich on the Democratic issues.

But it is not just Nan Rich who would like to debate Crist. The latest PPP poll of Florida Democrats taken May 14-15 shows that 89% of Florida Democrats want a Rich-Crist debate! Nearly 9 out of 10 Democrats support Nan Rich’s call for a debate! Let that sink in a little bit.

Charlie Crist needs to man up and debate Nan Rich. By sticking to his presumptuous position, Crist continues to show Florida voters that he is nothing more than the kind of professional politician who is using the Democratic Party to advance his own career and return to the Governor mansion. It’s the kind of professional politician that puts off the public in modern times.

All this is leading to a scenario where the real losers are Florida voters. What is politics without debates? Voters not only depend on a real discussion of the issues and principles of each candidate to figure out whose vision is best suited for their families and needs, voters deserve nothing less. That’s why I’m going to propose something bold — that Governor Rick Scott debate Senator Nan Rich now, before the primary elections.

Scott needs to debate Nan Rich. At least Florida voters will get a real debate on contrasting issues, principles and party. It would be a historic event, where the woman who defended the Democratic Party ideals in the legislature against then-Republican Gov. Charlie Crist takes on current Republican Governor Rick Scott and offers Florida the real choice in this year’s election.

Nan Rich is right about debates and Charlie Crist is wrong once again. Nan Rich is a proven Democratic champion who has not wavered on key issues and she offers more than a “larger-than-life” personality. Nan Rich is the only one talking about the real issues facing Florida. And that is exactly what Democrats – and the state of Florida – need in 2014.

It’s time to debate!

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