One way DeSantis can attack Charlie Crist on his stellar Florida environmental record

Crist was ‘Gov. Green’ when he ran Florida but he’s vulnerable on one point.

To: Robert Watkins, Tampa

Dear Mr. Watkins,

Hi! I see that you’re the chairman of “Friends of Ron DeSantis” political action committee. I figured that means you’re the person who can advise the Governor about how his reelection campaign is in peril.

I have a warning, but I also have a suggestion for him on how to deal with it.

I was going to write this letter to the Governor’s campaign manager at what the DeSantis website lists as its campaign office at “Suite 345” at 301 West Platt Street in Tampa. But it turns out that’s just a UPS Store.

So, I am writing you instead. You’re in charge of collecting the cashola that bankrolls the campaign, and I hear he pays closest attention to the advice of the people who fork over the big bucks he needs so badly.

It’s too late for you to save him from some of his goofier mistakes — putting his balls up for sale, for instance, and his boneheaded election “fraud” sweep and, especially, that “Flop Gun” video.

Whooo-ee, that video! I guess someone thought it would be fun to stuff our dad-bodied Politico-in-Chief into a flight suit and pose him in a fighter plane cockpit. Not only did it tick off at least one real Navy pilot, it mostly reminded everyone of Mike Dukakis riding around in a tank.

“But the Governor really is a Navy veteran!” some of his allies said. Yeah — as a lawyer, not a pilot. Dukakis served as an Army radio operator, not a tank crewman, so parallels abound. Let’s just agree that military cosplay among vote-seekers is a bad idea and move on.

Besides, that’s not what I wanted to warn you about. I wanted to warn you about this guy Charlie Crist, aka “the Tan Man,” whom the Democrats picked to challenge your candidate.

Specifically, I wanted to warn you about Crist’s environmental record. I’m sorry to tell you, it looks really good compared to your guy’s. But I see a way you can turn it against him.

And no, I’m not talking about his excessive electrical usage for that portable fan he carries around like he’s Beyoncé.

DeSantis the Destroyer repents

First, let’s review why your guy may want to avoid talking much about his own environmental record: It — as the kids like to say these days — suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks.

But it’s better than it used to be! Remember in 2018 when the guv was just Congressman DeSantis, R-Obscurity? Back then, his voting record on environmental issues was so bad he could barely eke out a 2 percent rating out of 100 from the League of Conservation Voters.

He was DeSantis the Destroyer, the hard-right ideologue ready to smite any and all pro-environment measures. Hear him roar (tonight on Fox News)!

But you can’t run for Florida Governor on an anti-environmental platform. Voters know that the environment is the economy in this state and, if you screw one up, you screw up the other.

A statewide candidate has to at least pay lip service to environmental causes and maybe pose for a few pictures while riding on an airboat.

Luckily for DeSantis, the guy he was running to succeed as Governor was Rick “I Love the Smell of Red Tide in the Morning” Scott. He had the worst environmental record since Napoleon Broward personally cranked up a dredge to drain the Everglades.

In two terms, Scott dismantled the state’s growth management system, laid off scores of state environmental agency employees, and pushed regulators to end prosecution of polluters in favor of helping them. He even took sugar executives along on a trip to Spain while negotiating long-term leases with their companies.

DeSantis lucked out, too, in drawing as his GOP primary opponent Adam “Big Sugar Has Always Been My Best Buddy” Putnam in the middle of a major toxic algae bloom that some blamed on the sugar farmers.

By running as the anti-sugar guy and assuring everyone he’d solve the toxic algae crisis, DeSantis persuaded some people that he’d changed. He was no longer Destroyer DeSantis, the enemy of all that is natural. Now he was Do-right DeSantis, fixer of broken ecosystems.

After he won, he wrote an op-ed vowing he’d carry out all those environmental promises he’d made: “That means prioritizing environmental issues, like water quality and cleaning the environmental mess that has resulted in toxic blue-green algae and exacerbated red tide around the state.”

He didn’t mean it, though.

Jekyll vs. Hyde

His first year in office started well — at least, on the surface.

He booted a bunch of water board members whom he deemed to be too close to Big Sugar, replacing them with people who are not. He appointed a bunch of bona fide scientists to advise him on how to stop toxic algae blooms. He named a chief science officer and a chief resiliency officer.

But, meanwhile, he was quietly signing off on some of the Legislature’s worst bills. For instance, he signed one that blocked local governments from passing stronger ordinances to restrict the dumping of sludge from sewage treatment, aka “biosolids.”

And he signed into law the hated M-CORES toll road plan that would push three expensive, unwanted highways through undeveloped land all over the state. (Later, he also signed the bill that repealed two of the roads but kept the Northern Turnpike Extension.)

It was like dealing with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Jekyll would be the public face, protecting the environment, but then Hyde would creep around behind the scenes tearing it apart.

Since that first year, he’s been so busy attacking Disney and drag shows that he seemed to forget about that green stuff he said he would prioritize. For instance, he’s never prodded the Legislature to implement the recommendations of his toxic algae task force.

In 2018, when he was running, DeSantis told reporters he wanted quick action on stopping algae blooms.

“I don’t want to say we have to wait years to get progress,” he said then, according to a story in the Florida Times-Union.

But in an August story in, here’s what the Governor’s current science adviser, Mark Rains of the University of South Florida, told the dejected members of his Blue-Green Algae Task Force about the lack of progress: “It’s going to take time. … We’re talking about decades.”

Spending money and that’s all

Frankly, I wonder if our Governor has reverted to the Destructive DeSantis who served in Congress.

On the one hand, he’s spent millions buying land for the Florida Wildlife Corridor. He spent millions on climate “resiliency” projects to protect waterfront landowners from rising sea levels. He spent millions on Everglades restoration projects.

On the other, he’s made it clear that spending taxpayer money is ALL he plans to do.

While he’s spending to preserve land, he approved a bunch of measures that would benefit developers and wipe out more land worth preserving. He even gave his blessing to the state takeover of federal wetlands permitting, another gift to developers that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says the state is handling wrong.

While he’s spending taxpayer funds on resilience, he’s refused to do any “left-wing stuff” that might hurt the fossil fuel industry. You’d think he’d want to combat the other symptoms of climate change, such as deadly heat and powerful hurricanes, but apparently not.

Recently, he’s even called for divesting the state pension fund from any investment that puts the environment ahead of profit. How cray-cray is that?

As for spending millions on the Everglades — heck, every Governor does that. It’s a convenient cloak for politicians who want to appear friendly to the environment while doing it dirty. This practice started with Jeb “One Question Mark Short of An Interrobang” Bush 20 years ago, even as he was lowering water quality standards at the behest of the sugar barons.

Meanwhile, DeSantis OK’d putting a new road in the Glades. He kowtowed to Big Sugar on its practice of burning old sugar cane stalks, sending choking smoke and ash into minority communities. And he’s endorsed as the next Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson, who’s been as big a suck-up to Big Sugar as Putnam ever was.

DeSantis has turned out be nearly as bad as Scott.

But don’t worry! You got this! Just look at Crist’s record and prepare to be dazzled by the brilliant idea I am about to give you.

‘Gov. Green’

Crist, in a way, is reversing DeSantis’ path to power like a political Benjamin Button. He used to be Governor, now he’s a Congressman.

Both grew up in Pinellas County. DeSantis grew up in Dunedin while Crist calls St. Petersburg home.

But where DeSantis got 2%, Congressman Crist earned a 100% rating from the League of Conservation Voters last year.

When Crist was Governor — well, he had issues. For instance, the guy he hand-picked to run the Florida Republican Party went to prison for using the party’s treasury like his personal ATM.

But his environmental record was so stellar, people dubbed him “Gov. Green.” (I know your folks would rather say he’s “Gov. Pinko” but that’s not what happened.)

He didn’t just spend money on the state’s environmental resources. He halted a developer-driven move by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to remove the manatee from the state’s endangered list.

He didn’t just approve funding for Everglades restoration and make a lot of noise about opposing Big Sugar. He proposed a massive state buyout of U.S. Sugar’s land to use it for restoring the flow of the River of Grass. One news story described this as the “death knell for Big Sugar.”

He even blocked a threat to the Everglades before it was built. At his urging, the Public Service Commission rejected a plan by the state’s largest utility, Florida Power & Light, to build a $5.7 billion coal-fired power plant near Everglades National Park. (Meanwhile, DeSantis’ Public Service Commission has given Florida Power & Might — er, sorry, Light — almost everything it’s wanted.)

Speaking of FPL, you know that net-metering bill DeSantis vetoed recently that spared the state’s solar industry (although he said he was only doing it because of the cost)? Crist signed the bill creating solar net-metering in the first place.

And, unlike Scott (and DeSantis), he was never afraid to say the words “climate change.”

In his first State of the State address in 2007, Crist called climate change “one of the most important issues that we will face this century.” He pledged to “bring together the brightest minds” and “place our state at the forefront of a growing worldwide movement to reduce greenhouse gases.”

He convened a climate-change summit in Miami that attracted 600 participants. One was then-California Gov. Arnold “Ah-nold” Schwarzenegger, who proclaimed Crist a real-life action hero.

As if to prove that point, Crist signed a series of executive orders imposing far-reaching changes in the state’s energy policies, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2025 and mandating that statewide building codes seek a 15 percent energy-efficiency increase.

“I think that as a state, beautiful as Florida is, we need to be a leader controlling climate change and protecting our natural resources,” Crist said then. “It’s vital to Florida’s future.”

He even persuaded the Florida Legislature to pass a bill calling for the state to pursue “market-based solutions” to reduce greenhouse gases. In other words, Florida was going to set up a cap-and-trade system to limit emissions from power companies and other polluters, but also create a marketplace through which they can buy or trade credits to go over the limit.

But then — here’s where you catch him! — Crist lost interest in running Florida.

‘It’s Charlie’s fault’

In 2009, U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Gaffes Galore, abruptly resigned before his term was up. Crist wanted that job.

So instead of running for re-election and continuing his pro-environment policies, Crist sought the Senate seat. That meant he had to please Republican voters — he was a Republican then — and suddenly all those far-sighted things he was doing for Florida’s future fell by the wayside. Crist lost to Marco Rubio, who was backed by both Big Sugar and the National Rifle Association. Meanwhile, Scott became Governor. All that climate stuff went out the window. So did the Everglades buyout.

And when Crist subsequently ran again for his old job, FPL and the other utilities dumped loads of cash into the Scott campaign. They didn’t want to deal with all those climate policies Crist favored.

So, here’s my proposal, Mr. W: The DeSantis campaign makes a major ad buy in all the markets. The ad portrays just how awful Rick Scott was for Florida’s environment. Spell out how he messed up this special place. Even mention how he was behind a push to build golf courses in the state parks.

Then comes the punchline.

You flash on the screen one of those artificially darkened portraits that make politicians look like they’re on a wanted poster as the announcer says: “This was all Charlie Crist’s fault. If not for him, Rick Scott would NEVER have been in charge. Crist had a job to do. Instead, he went chasing after some other prize. You can’t trust him.”

I think it’s a pretty convincing argument, don’t you? It should prompt people to vote for DeSantis as a guy who won’t run off and leave Florida in the lurch. I mean, it’s not like he’s thinking about abandoning us in two years to run for some other office — is he?


Craig Pittman reporting via Florida Phoenix.

Florida Phoenix is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Florida Phoenix maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Diane Rado for questions: [email protected]. Follow Florida Phoenix on Facebook and Twitter.

Florida Phoenix

Florida Phoenix is a news and opinion outlet focused on government and political news coverage within the state of Florida.


  • Charlie Crist

    September 2, 2022 at 7:54 am

    Vote for me. I’ll send the conservative Republican neo nazis to hell.

  • Hope

    September 2, 2022 at 9:36 am

    Let’s go Brandon! Voters will be hearing a different version through stadiums all throughout Florida in the upcoming weeks. A reminder to voters what a pathetic desperate political nightmare we have upon us. Just last night we don’t know if that was a set set in the devil’s home or Neo-Nazi red theme, but let’s go Brandon gave the all-time worst speech in world history. Democrats are so desperate! They are calling conservatives names and hate speech; conservatives are just shaking their heads and accomplishing their goals to make a America a safer stronger Nation without all the nightmares Biden has created. Minutes after this hate speech last night online message boards lit up with comments not one was pro Biden.

    Conservatives expend their energy on making America great again while Democrats expend their energies on hating conservatives. That’s why they never accomplish anything… the Democrats keep digging themselves in deeper.

    DeSantis and his entire cabinet and every Republican up for election or reelection will resoundingly win at the polls so that this nightmare under Biden will end. Amen.

    Bye bye Charlie Crist.

    • Daniela Patterson

      September 2, 2022 at 10:20 am

      Don’t be so sure! You must be onthe far right with your comment! Most People are sick of the Devision, and Hate for anyone not agreeing with the right’s fascist policies!

      • Hope

        September 2, 2022 at 11:00 am

        @ Daniela,

        Biden has driven the country into ruin with his inflation, ties to china, treason, Fentanyl overdoses, high gas prices, 401ks crashing, wokeness, grooming innocent children for vulgar purposes and he has no defense other than to call Republicans names instead of fixing the problems he has created. We will not be deterred by your name calling and extremism.

        Perhaps if you would concentrate on solving the problems rather than hate speech and name calling you would have a better chance, but you are going to lose in the midterms and in 2024.

        • Charlie Crist

          September 2, 2022 at 11:05 am

          Take your far right lies somewhere else. Need Fat Cammack anchovy scrub to set you straight 🐟

        • marylou

          September 2, 2022 at 12:27 pm

          “hate speech and name calling” Do you mean “Fascism”? Trump says: “..left-wing fascism…Fascists. They are fascists…” Fascism is a form of far-right nationalism, so Biden is using it correctly.

          “grooming”: MAGAs chanting “grooming” like they’re cheerleaders from Hell, is depraved. It shows a lack of compassion for innocent children who are victims of pedophiles. Imagine being a parent hearing DeSatan use their family’s tragedy as a cheap campaign slogan.

          • Hope

            September 2, 2022 at 1:23 pm

            @ Marylou,

            Parenting extremist Democratic Party talking points in an attempt to divert attention away from their mismanagement and debacles that give them all time low ratings on their performance. No one is fooled. Perhaps if you would spend more time not creating problems in the first place — but, when you do create the problems, fixing them instead of being fixated on Republicans, your ratings wouldn’t be in the dumpster.

            No one is fooled by the expended energy on the ridiculousness. Democrats have created self-inflicted wounds and no amount of banter will bail them out at this point.

            The most embarrassing presidential hate speech in history!

    • Joe Corsin

      September 2, 2022 at 11:07 am

      How does shoveling money to the super rich as fast as humanly possible make America great again? How does far right propaganda to achieve this make America great again? You full of poo poo btch…

  • Tom

    September 2, 2022 at 10:21 am

    Sarcastic SOB, where do you get off? You lazy pathetic reporter.
    The Top Gov add us totally contrary to you and your observations. It calls out the abusive nature of media.
    America’s Gov has done more for Florida’s environment, compared to last 40 yrs.
    Lake O, and re commit to it this year.
    Waterways, actuaries clean up to name a few.
    He’s budgeted more dollars compared to any Governor.
    You are a hater and Dem lackey. You prove the whole point Craig, with your one sided hate.
    Chameleon is a loser, flip flopper, soulless, with no principal. DeSantis wins with 54%.
    Enjoy it.

    • Elliott Offen

      September 2, 2022 at 11:04 am

      Go away legendary clown and cheerleader for criminals.

      • Tom

        September 2, 2022 at 11:48 am

        Incest is your best profession.
        Just keep bending over idiot Elliot.

    • Tom

      September 2, 2022 at 11:50 am

      Busted that pile of Adam Schiff from Pittman. No credibility.
      Dealing with the FP legend!

    • Hope

      September 2, 2022 at 11:57 am

      @ Tom,

      Yes, Governor DeSantis has an excellent environmental record. The reporter should be reporting on the Democrats in Tallahassee under the local government and their special interests developers where there have been numerous sewage spills, fines from the FDEP and the Florida Water Management… and they have been record amount fines!

      Not only is the Tallahassee local government under Democrats wreaking havoc on the environment the Democrats lobbyist and campaign manager Reggie Cardozo running the Tallahassee Democrats campaigns took a spanking last Tuesday.

      This is what should be front page news in Florida Politics, but the Democrats money in Tallahassee is trying to cover up the abysmal environmental problems with campaign contributions. The Tallahassee Democrat is refusing to publish articles by water quality scientists and biologists. Another local fledgling rag, Tallahassee Reports, is also covering up because he is accepting money to do campaign ads and selling his soulless Democrats.

      It’s the Democrats who are abysmal at water quality and are creating havoc on the environment in Tallahassee and Florida. Governor’s DeSantis is the stellar star in Florida Environmental issues.

      This reporter is irresponsible for not reporting the fines incurred by Democrats for wreaking havoc on the water quality and environment because they want to cut corners with their special interest developers.

    • Lou

      September 3, 2022 at 8:07 am

      Thats ridiculous Tom.

      • Tom

        September 3, 2022 at 10:02 pm

        You morons are ridiculous!

  • Tom

    September 2, 2022 at 12:13 pm

    @ Hope, good local info. Thanks for sharing.
    Yes it’s always local.

    Just a hit, smear from this guy. He’s a hater.
    The Phoenix is a hit rag. He actually proves Govs Top Gov commercial on substance. It proves the point that was shared. Clueless he is, like the soros Manchurian nation.

    You’d think he’d be concerned with Hernandez Matz associating, protecting a child abuser.
    Furthermore, Matz is NEA, Weingarten’s asst.
    shameful, socialist agenda. Kids can’t read, or do math and DeSantis ensures kids go to school in Florida.

    They all collapse under the high beams of issues. F.P welcomes these liberals.

  • Tom

    September 2, 2022 at 12:13 pm

    @ Hope, good local info. Thanks for sharing.
    Yes it’s always local.

    Just a hit, smear from this guy. He’s a hater.
    The Phoenix is a hit rag. He actually proves Govs Top Gov commercial on substance. It proves the point that was shared. Clueless he is, like the soros Manchurian nation.

    You’d think he’d be concerned with Hernandez Matz associating, protecting a child abuser.
    Furthermore, Matz is NEA, Weingarten’s asst.
    shameful, socialist agenda. Kids can’t read, or do math and DeSantis ensures kids go to school in Florida.

    They all collapse under the high beams of issues. F.P welcomes these liberals.

  • marylou

    September 2, 2022 at 12:43 pm

    DeSantis Signs Bill Overturning Key West Voter-Approved Limits On Cruise Ships —
    DeDictator’s statement on the environment and voters’ rights to protect it.

    • Tom

      September 2, 2022 at 1:14 pm

      Shut up, meaningless.
      That’s not environmental.
      Pittman never shared that.
      Go away. You are do ignorant.

      • Ocean Joe

        September 2, 2022 at 5:33 pm

        Tom, I want to help you, as always. I know you are hurting after the loss of Sarah Palin the other day. Whenever you call someone ignorant, make sure your grammar is correct.
        Also, when those big ships come into the shallow KW harbor the silt kicked is pretty incredible. The people of KW voted overwhelming to place size limit. The governor took a huge donation from the pier owner (100k?) and signed off on a bill opposed by our local Republican state rep. Call it what you will, I’d call it pay to play.

  • Ocean Joe

    September 2, 2022 at 5:28 pm

    Good synopsis of the GOP’s tortured record on Florida’s environment.
    There is no defending it, it is disgraceful.

    • Tom

      September 2, 2022 at 6:47 pm

      It was a typo ocean, meant “so” not “do”

      DeSantis is solid on environment, and for a Repub. he gets A. His accomplishments are many!

      You Manchurians love to accuse unlawful wrong doing, but never can prove it.

      You love to hang someone in public opinion but can’t prove anything.
      Sorry ocean, just cause you, the wench and corsin accuse, it does not mean truth.

      Spare me, furthermore Pittman made no claim. Period.

    • Tom

      September 2, 2022 at 6:47 pm

      It was a typo ocean, meant “so” not “do”

      DeSantis is solid on environment, and for a Repub. he gets A. His accomplishments are many!

      You Manchurians love to accuse unlawful wrong doing, but never can prove it.

      You love to hang someone in public opinion but can’t prove anything.
      Sorry ocean, just cause you, the wench and corsin accuse, it does not mean truth.

      Spare me, furthermore Pittman made no claim. Period.

Comments are closed.


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