Gov. Charlie Crist
Guide: Crist's Ideology
A sampler of Gov. Charlie Crist's politics.
Right-wing critics like Wall Street Journal's editorial page hated Crist's handling of property insurance but praised his health care incentive.
Ideology: Traditionally liberal position
Rection: Republicans groan; environmentalists cheer. “He’s doing it in a bold way, and it has shaken up our industry. There’s no question about it. It has challenged us to think differently,” says Barry Moline, executive director of the Florida Municipal Electric Association.
What Crist says: “I think the vast reason why people come to Florida is because she’s so beautiful. So it makes not only good sense environmentally, but economically in Florida to be concerned about our environment and protective of her.”
Action: Raised possibility of drilling for oil off Florida’s coast
Ideology: Popular GOP strategy for increasing domestic oil supply
Rection: Republicans call it necessary to reduce dependence on foreign oil; Democrats see no energy benefits, suspect an environmental sellout. Crist’s new stance “doesn’t sound very green to me,” says CFO Alex Sink. “This proposal would do nothing to reduce the pain we’re feeling today.”
What Crist says: “What we’re talking about is a comprehensive approach to providing the resources and fuel that our people need and doing it in a way that is safe enough, far enough from our shore and clean enough.”
Action: Led crusade to reform Florida’s “certificate of need” process
Ideology: Libertarian, free-market deregulation
Rection: Florida Hospital Association and Associated Industries of Florida protest loudly. “Healthcare is not a commodity to be marketed like car dealers and gas stations,” says the Florida Hospital Council.
What Crist says: “It was almost like a clubby sort of attitude — like, ‘We’re in the club. We get to do it, and we don’t want to have to compete with others to make all this money providing certain healthcare services.’ I just felt like we needed to break open the club and let more people participate to provide healthcare to more Floridians.
Action: Led expansion of the state’s CAT fund and increased the amount of business Citizens may do in the state
Ideology: Pure populist
Rection: Public cheers; insurance companies grimace; everyone prays. “That’s a big issue for a lot of conservative criticism. Republicans are a market-based political party,” says Darryl Paulson, a political science professor at the University of South Florida. “Crist has put the state at great risk. It’s sort of like rolling the dice.”
What Crist says: “For too long, the industry has profiteered of the backs of our people. Sometimes, big business can be just as bad as big government.”
Action: Shepherded “Cover Florida” healthcare initiative through Legislature
Ideology: Conservative, market-based reform
Rection: Liberal critics say the plan won’t ensure quality care and continue to call for universal coverage. Wall Street Journal hails Crist’s healthcare plan as an “innovative” reform. “Mr. Crist observed that state regulations increase the cost of health coverage, and thus rightly decided to do away with at least some of them.”
What Crist says: “Cover Florida was a tremendous accomplishment for the people of our state. To give 3.8 million Floridians that much better chance to have health coverage for as low as $150 a month is, I think, a historic breakthrough that I’m very pleased about.”
Action: Eased process for restoring felons’ voting rights
Ideology: Bleeding heart liberal
Rection: While civil rights groups applaud Crist’s action, police groups protest the move. Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum lambastes the move as “reckless and irresponsible” considering the fact that “almost half of those who are released from prison today will commit crimes and be back in prison in five years.”
What Crist says: “People, I think, do deserve to have a second chance to have a productive life and to participate in our society, and being able to vote in Florida, I think, brings us to a more progressive place. We were among a very few states that precluded that opportunity, and now we’re not among them any more, and I’m very proud of that.”