Charlie Crist’s tepid support among black Florida voters remains a mystery to the media, but the likely answer is simple: black voters remember how Crist sabotaged the 2010 U.S. Senate campaign of Democrat nominee Kendrick Meek, an African-American.
Reuters yesterday published the latest article chronicling black voters’ antipathy for Crist and expressing wonder about the cause. According to Reuters, “The challenge for Crist is to lure black voters to the polls by addressing issues they care about, such as school discipline and the justice system, political analysts said.”
Reuters’ spin makes little sense considering Crist has frequently and vociferously advocated leftist political causes like those cited by Reuters. Moreover, Crist has much less support among African-American voters than he has among liberal voters and Democrat voters as a whole.
A recent poll of Florida voters shows only 72 percent of black voters support Charlie Crist in a matchup against Florida incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott, compared to Crist’s 83 percent support among self-identified liberals and Crist’s 86 percent support among all Democrats.
Democrat candidates typically receive 90 percent of the black vote. Crist is far short of that number, though he polls very well among white liberals and white Democrats. Given these numbers, Crist’s tepid support among black voters cannot be explained by Crist not being liberal enough.
Reuters quoted African-American Democratic Party blogger Leslie Wimes as saying, “Charlie Crist is a smooth operator, a used car salesman, but he doesn’t mean the African American community any good.”
Reuters attempted to explain this feeling among black voters by noting Crist only recently joined the Democratic Party and still needs to persuade some liberal Democrats that he genuinely is one of them. But Reuters never explained why this is an issue only among liberals who are black.
The likeliest explanation for Crist’s tepid support among African Americans has nothing to do with whether or not he is a credible liberal. Wimes did not claim Crist doesn’t mean the liberal community any good; she instead said Crist “doesn’t mean the African American community” any good.
Although the media would like to convey that the two are one and the same, this is not the case — and it is certainly not the case in the view of black voters.
In April 2010, when Crist sought the Republican Party nomination for an open U.S. Senate seat, Crist claimed there was no substantive political daylight between himself and Latino Republican candidate Marco Rubio. When polls showed Crist had not chance of beating Rubio in the Republican Party primary, Crist dropped out of the primary and ran as an Independent.
Crist’s political strategy for the duration of the campaign was to sap white Democrat voters from Democrat nominee Kendrick Meek, an African-American running a historic campaign to be the first black U.S. Senator elected in Florida. Crist proceeded to steal most of Meek’s white Democratic Party support, sabotaging what many Democrats and African-Americans viewed as a winnable race for Meek.
Fast-forward to 2014, and a similar picture has emerged. Longtime liberal Nan Rich seeks to make political history as the first female U.S. Senator elected in Florida. After Rich had announced her candidacy, lined up crucial liberal support, and established herself as the front-runner among announced candidates, Crist entered the race and usurped the majority of white male Democrat votes.
Crist has not identified any significant differences on political issues or ideology in comparison to Rich, but nevertheless decided to sabotage Rich’s historic candidacy.
Parallels between Crist’s treatment of Rich and Meek appears to be opening up old wounds among portions of the Democrat base.
“Where are the fresh faces of the Democratic Party? It killed Kendrick Meek’s chances when it abandoned him during the 2010 U.S. Senate race in favor of Charlie the chameleon, who was running as an independent against eventual winner Marco Rubio,” black columnist Luther Campbell explained earlier this month in the liberal Miami New Times.
“Meek was a promising African-American Democrat in his 30s, and liberals of every color would have rallied around him had he gotten the support he deserved,” Campbell explained. “The only person willing to challenge the status quo is Nan Rich, the 72-year-old former state senator.”
“Instead, Florida Democrats are proving they are no different from the Grand Old Party,” Campbell added.