Stephen Goldstein: Blame Nan Rich if Charlie Crist loses

During Nan Rich’s quixotic, primary quest to become Florida’s governor, she claimed to be the only real Democrat in the race, a lifelong liberal, ideologically pure. Instinctively, she always won at “Pin the tail on the donkey.”

Relentlessly, she bashed her rival, Republican-turned-Independent-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist, as an untrustworthy, mercurial opportunist who was raining on her parade.

For more than two years, Rich tilted at windmills –and Crist. She even conned gaggles of groupies into believing that she had enough support to win not just the nomination but the governorship. Her coffee klatches were paroxysms of populism, grassroots grandmothers grandstanding for Florida’s first girl governor, the closest thing to electioneering ecstasy

When an upstart defeated powerhouse GOP House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia, the upset fed into Rich’s narrative of underdog-on-top. Of course, the press obliged, feeding the fiction with ink vastly disproportionate to the odds of her realistic success.

After all the hoopla, Rich lost to Charlie Crist, even in her “home” Broward County. But she left a trail of ill will behind her. Her most ardent supporters pledged never to lower themselves to vote for Crist. And her attacks on Crist played into the playbook of the Rick Scott campaign, turning a race competitive that should have been an uphill battle.

Right after the primary, a smiling Crist and Rich joined other Dems in Orlando for a nanosecond to profess their unity. Since then? The silence of Rich’s support has been deafening.

In the few remaining days before the election, Nan Rich has the chance to prove that she is a real Democrat after all, that her politicking was not just the delusional ego-trip of a former elected official trying to regain the spotlight, but an attempt to give voters a real choice. But, having lost the nomination, she also needs to show she’s a political grown-up, that pragmatism trumps personal ambition, that any Democrat (even newbie Crist) is better than Rick Scott. And she needs publicly to support Crist and to urge her supporters to do so.

During her primary campaign, Rich and her surrogates managed to write endless op-eds on her behalf. There’s still time for her to write one vigorously endorsing Crist. At the very least, she and her supporters could stand at intersections around the state, but especially in South Florida, waving “Nan Fans for Crist” signs. They owe it to all Floridians, if not to him. Too much is at stake. Voter turnout is everything.

If not, and Rick Scott is re-elected, to their horror, Nan and her gang will have to take responsibility for helping him pursue his real agenda — the continued assault on women’s health and reproductive rights, blocking same-sex marriage, no minimum wage increase, continued assault on Obamacare, no Medicaid expansion, the biggest corporate takeover of state government in U.S. history, continued dismantling of public schools, unprecedented secrecy.

By any stretch of the imagination, that’s one round of “Pin the tail on the donkey” Nan Rich would never want to win.

Stephen L. Goldstein is the author of “The Dictionary of American Political Bullshit” and “Atlas Drugged: Ayn Rand Be Damned.” He lives in Fort Lauderdale. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

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One comment

  • Marie

    November 1, 2014 at 1:45 am

    If Charlie Crist loses he will have no one to blame but himself.

    Crist will try to blame Rick Scott’s campaign and then he’ll blame Rick Scott’s money. Then his staff will try to scapegoat Wasserman Schultz- she is good pickins’ right now. They’ll say she held her nose when supporting him.

    Nan Rich has been a class act and gracious, What man would be expected to jump in 36 hrs after the primary to sing kumbayah with his opponent. Instead of taking a much needed vacation, Nan continues to stomp for all Democrats for all seats and she continues to attend GOTV rallies.. Your accusation of Nan’s alleged “deafening silence” is utterly false.

    If Crist loses, the truth is, it will be entirely his fault.

    1) His fault for being a no-show at many planned events,
    2) His fault for having no depth on topics Floridians care about.
    3) His fault for having opportunistically changed parties 3 x in 4 yrs
    4) His fault for not listening to campaign managers
    5) His fault for giving shallow, empty speeches.
    6) His fault for refusing to debate Nan and allow the democratic process to take place thus enabling democrats to get excited about the race.

    As always, Charlie won’t take responsibility — for a loss he earned all by himself.

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