Charlie Crist may have avoided censure at the Palm Beach County REC on Wednesday, but that shouldn't be mistaken for a victory. There were three votes that evening; the first was congressional candidate Edward Lynch's (CD-19) motion to postpone the censure vote indefinitely and failed in a 64-64 tie. The second vote was whether to censure the governor for myriad political offenses that have outraged the vast majority of the members. The Governor narrowly avoided censure in a contentious 65-65 tie vote. The final vote was on whether to conduct a straw poll at the October 14th meeting. The straw poll passed by a healthy margin.
What's lost in all these votes was the debate that ensued on each issue. In each case those for and against censure universally criticized the Governor and expressed more than just displeasure with Crist and his policies. Charlie's appointment of Democrats to the courts and county commissions were attacked. His lack of support for our 2008 congressional nominees, Marion Thorpe, Allen West & Edward Lynch and support for liberal-Democrat Robert Wexler (CD-19) were roundly criticized. But what seemed to have many REC members the most angry was his fawning over Barack Obama in Tampa, supporting the $787 billion "stimulus".
I would predict that when the straw poll for the US Senate nominee is held on October 14th, Palm Beach County will vote for Marco Rubio by a wide margin, as has happened in every other county that has held a straw poll to date. Clearly the grassroots of the RPOF have no intention of rewarding Charlie for his poor leadership as governor. Crist can raise all the special interest and out-of-state money he wants. He can claim that he's "true conservative". But the rank-and-file members of the Party have had it with him and RPOF Chairman Jim Greer and are voicing their disgust in no uncertain terms.
Charlie avoided censure because there was a split in the REC over whether it was an appropriate remedy for political differences. I argued for the postponement and against censure because Charlie hasn't broken the law or committed any ethical offenses. That's the only reason he was spared censure. I argued for the straw poll because I want to send him a message, but wanted to avoid giving the liberal media another opportunity to paint the Florida GOP as divided and as "eating it's own". But, anyone that was present at our meeting and heard the debate can tell you, avoiding censure was no victory for Governor Charlie Crist.