Thursday, May 31, 2007

Florida and the New(t) Republicans

by Tally

In a discussion of Newt Gingrich’s analysis of the Republican Party as stated in a recent New Yorker article, Kos says the following:

Gingrich, on the other hand, appears to sense that Americans are disgusted
at Bush and GOP incompetence and expect government to work for them. Katrina and Iraq have driven that sentiment home.

Therefore, if his party is to remain relevant, it must recreate itself not as the party of smaller government, but the party of modernized government.

But this has already taken place in Florida. Learn more below.

Tally's diary :: ::

Many of us have written about Charlie Crist, and how he essentially appears to be acting like a progressive Democrat. Limelite, bejammin075, T Rex, cornball, britain33, meowmissy, creepers, and yours truly have all commented on this phenomenon, if a bit skeptically at times. Both gatordem and I have diaried a little more explicitly about our doubts and concerns and our belief that Crist is very politically astute.

The bottom line is that our new governor, unlike our president, knows how to govern competently and knows how to steal the rhetoric of the Democrats. A while back I posted the following quote from Crist:

"What I pay more attention to is what I hear from people on the street," Crist
said. "Their encouragement, their critique or their compliments are all
appreciated because they are the boss, as I say all the time. It's much more
important to get it from them, eye to eye, and understand what really is in
their hearts, what their needs and desires are."

As I said at the time, "Who else could get away with a comment like that?"

In other words, Crist has already done in Florida what Kos wrote about:

Gingrich isn't talking about a slight or subtle ideological shift here, he's talking about erasing the biggest fundamental difference between Republicans and Democrats, and doing so by adopting our position.

That’s been the standard joke ever since the legislative session began: "Charlie Crist is the best Democratic governor ever elected."

Kos wondered if Gingrich would enter the presidential race and use the "Sarkozy Strategy", i.e., running against Bush rather than the Democrats. This would set up an intense intra-party struggle within the GOP.

But Crist was able to win without this apparently happening in Florida. His defeat of Tom Gallagher (who ran as a religious conservative) in the primary was decisive and not particularly divisive. Personally, I have been trying to push this concept of opening up a split in the Republican Party of Florida, but it hasn't really been getting a lot of traction.

There seemed to be some hope over Crist telling the state Republican Party not to push the state's anti-gay marriage amendment and his fallout with State Attorney General Bill McCollum over restoration of felon rights. But these seemed to fade away without much being made of it and I haven’t seen anything else to indicate a split between the pragmatists and the fundamentalists.

You might remember then Congressman Bill McCollum from Bill Clinton's impeachment. He seemed to have impeccable conservative credentials. But then he refused to pull out of the Republican primary for the open Florida senate seat in 2004 and was savaged by Bush's people for daring to get in the way of Karl Rove's Cuban strategy of having Mel Martinez run.

One of the results of that dustup is the now seemingly incongruous situation where McCollum is Rudy Giuliani's campaign manager in Florida in order to get a shot at being Attorney General in a Giuliani administration. While we all thought McCollum was a fundamentalist it turns out he’s as pragmatic as the next guy.

What we have to understand is that the majority of Republicans in Florida, just like the majority of Republicans in the country, are not fundamentalist Christians. They might give lip service to cultural issues, but those aren't the sine qua non of their votes.

Another key player in the Republican Party of Florida is State House Speaker Marco Rubio. He's young, good looking, and ambitious. He was the force behind moving the Florida primary up. He wants to follow Crist as governor and is praying that the Republican nominee will pick Crist as vice president. Rubio anticipated Gingrich’s approach by years. One of the first things I ever diaried about on DKos was Rubio's 100 Ideas Project. I still defy anyone to watch the promotional video and tell me it isn’t exactly what you want from a progressive legislature. In this regard, both Rubio and Crist have been working from the same populist playbook.

And guess what. When I went to the 100 Ideas site to get the correct link for the video I found that the site’s been updated. And what should I find but a new video of Newt Gingrich praising Rubio and the 100 Ideas Project (same link as above)!

So there you have it. If you want to see the new face of the Republican Party, all you have to do is look at Florida! Giuliani has already said he intends to concentrate on winning it's primary next January 29.

Which leaves us Democrats struggling with Dr. Dean's intransigence. Please read gatordem's plea to make the Democratic primary count and send a message to the DNC about it.

If you are a Florida blogger you might want to be signed up for the Blogger Luncheon at the FDP's Jefferson Jackson Weekend event June 9 & 10 .

If you're serious about organizing in Florida then you might want to be signed up for the DFA training in Tampa June 30 and July 1.


gatordem said...

Really good over view of the state of the Republican Party in Florida.

Welcome back

Union Democrats said...

See these GOP on GOP exchanges at the St.Petersburg Times blog,"The Buzz." [Memorial Day 2007].

Jim Greer is wasting little time in exercising his power over local parties and GOP clubs. The Florida Republican Women's Network - formerly the Fl Federation of Republican Women, which is much more fond of former chair Carole Jean Jordan than Greer - was told Friday that Greer is insisting all Network clubs must apply for permission to operate as Republican clubs and could be stripped of the right to use "Republican" in their title without permission from local party officials.

And this one --there's a bitter feud between the former leaders of the Florida Federation (who now lead the Florida Republican Women's Network) and leaders of a rival group running what is now called the Florida New Federation of Republican Women)--is even worse letters posted around comments #170-171.