Sunday, June 17, 2007

Charlie Crist: Being A Populist Means Not Doing the Leadership Thing

This is the most accurate quote on Charlie Crist I have heard. Pollster Jim Kane describes Crist's low profile on the property tax cuts issue.

"I think he wants to go slowly on this to see how public opinion forms before he comes out for it -- or doesn't if it looks like it's going to lose."

Crist is a polical animal at heart. He is not George W. Bush. Crist wants to be liked and maintain his populist image.

The property tax cuts is a loser. It is highly unlikely that the amendment will get the 60 percent yes votes needed to become law.

As Sen. Dan Webster says: "Any lengthy constitutional amendment, especially one with a 60 percent vote, is going to be a tough sell."

The infamous Amendment 3, which made 60 percent the law, did not receive 60 percent approval from voters. Political, it is wise for Crist to stay in the shadows. What is troubling is Crist's leadership void let Marco Rubio turn the property tax issue into his bully pulpit. The St. Petersburg Times ran a harsh editorial against Rubio.

Rubio made it clear Tuesday that he isn't interested in hearing legitimate criticisms about a constitutional amendment that would create an overly generous super homestead exemption to replace the existing $25, 000 exemption and phase out Save Our Homes. He could not care less about alternatives, and he refuses to consider reducing the tax breaks to a more reasonable level.

Rubio has also embarrassed his party by stripping Dennis Ross and Don Brown of the Chairmanship positions and then lying about it. Crist will not enter the fray because that would be making waves in his own party against a rising star. That leaves Rubio to run roughshod over Florida politics. If that means Rubio giving lavish raises to staff members and using tax dollars to remodel the House dining room then so be it. Don't count on Crist to point out this hypocrisy the next time Rubio accuses counties of being fiscally irresponsible.

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