Monday, May 3, 2010

May 3: Hard Right Is Hard For Florida and Crist

By Sylvia Gurinsky

The move of Gov. Charlie Crist from Republican to independent and the worst session of the Florida Legislature in recent memory (and that's saying something) both come from the same source: The hard-right ideological turn by the GOP.

The party leadership has become increasingly invasive, with bills such as a presposterous measure requiring women seeking abortions to have an ultrasound and listen to a description of the fetus (a bill Crist should veto), and a school prayer bill that could bring back the days when people of non-Christian religions were subject to coercion.

There are a combination of reasons for this, including the gerrymandering games of lawmakers over districts, the death and retirement of moderate Republican leaders in Tallahassee and a general frustration that the first year-and-a-half of the Obama presidency hasn't put all of America back to work yet. In addition, there's the looming shadow of former Gov. Jeb Bush, who isn't actively running for anything at the moment, but is making plenty of trouble.

Crist couldn't take it anymore. The more he attempted to veer to the right to save himself with U.S. Senate Republican primary voters, the less natural he looked.

Now that he's divorced the GOP, it's the hard-righters who look ridiculous. Senate polls indicate that the majority of Florida voters, about 60 percent, aren't interested in extremist candidates or positions.

It's the same breakdown typical of this state. So why are the legislative leaders governing as if they were in the old Soviet Kremlin?

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