Florida Democrats are hungrily awaiting the announcement from their newly minted member, Charlie Crist, that the former Republican governor will seek the office again, this time as a Democrat. Republicans will tell you that he has always been more Democrat than Republican and left the party principles years ago.
The Democrats are the party of lost causes—marriage equality, labor unions, healthcare reform and gun control. Most of these causes Crist has opposed, but he has already begun to distance himself from his past positions, especially when it comes to gun control.
When he announced on Twitter his affiliation epiphany last December, Crist immediately became the Democrat’s frontrunner for the 2014 gubernatorial nomination. A week after his party switch, Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children and six adult at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the village of Sandy Hook in Newtown, Conn. In the days after the shootings, Crist joined the chorus of Democrats across the nation calling for gun control.
Great… the only problem is Crist has been a vocal supporter for the Second Amendment and the political agenda of the National Rifle Association for over a decade.
The NRA backed Crist over Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate race until Crist dropped out of the GOP primary and ran as an independent. Crist accused Rubio of being soft on guns because he supported a waiting period and background checks. It was the same tactic Crist used against Republican rival Tom Gallagher in the 2006 race for governor, winning another endorsement from the NRA.
Once in office, Governor Crist appointed NRA-endorsed Charles Canady and Ricky Polston to the Florida Supreme Court. He signed legislation that allowed workers to bring their guns to work and vetoed a move by lawmakers to sweep $6 million from the concealed weapons trust fund to help balance the state budget.
The following year, Crist worked with the NRA to get legislation passed by the Florida Legislature that prevented any further attempts to raid the Concealed-weapons Permit Trust Fund. When he signed the bill, Governor Crist gave the pen that he used to Marion Hammer, the former NRA president and its longtime lobbyist in Tallahassee.
Now Crist is willing to shed himself of his pro-gun past, almost as easily as he left the Republican Party. Is his change of heart real or is he simply playing to his new party?
Time will tell, but we can expect more such changes in the months leading up to the 2014 election. Crist may even reach the grandmaster level of flip-flopping before it’s over.