Monday, December 18, 2006

Centrism In Florida

It's getting noticed.

House Speaker Marco Rubio and Senate President Ken Pruitt last week gave Democrats unprecedented access — at least on paper — to power in both chambers, showing the GOP is ready to share after a decade in command of the Legislature.

Much of the attention this past election season focused on Montana and Virginia. Florida, other than boy buggery and the ghost of Katherine Harris haunting her old district, barely registered a blip.

It's unfortunate since Florida could be the new model for centrist politics. Newly elected Governor Charlie Crist not only managed to brush off right wing whisper campaigns on his sexual orientation, completely ignore the Florida Family Council but also managed to steal 14% of registered Democrats from his opponent Jim Davis.

Uniqueness makes Florida difficult to compare to other states. It is neither wholly red nor blue nor even mauve. It is wide swaths of all three. Unlike other states, Georgia in particular, the regionalization of these trends are not isolated into conclaves of urban and rural and don't always follow the rules.

Major population centers such as Miami do trend "blue" but on particular issues are fiercely "red" due to the influence of the Cuban and other communities. Rural areas are hard "red" but Tallahassee is not just a "blue" dot surrounded by crackers and shrimp boat captains. In the last election some of that "blue" seeped into the surrounding counties. And just to confound further, the "liberal" Tallahassee Democrat endorsed the Republican candidate.

The generalized conclusion about the last election is Florida voters care less about party and more about effectiveness. National politicians would be wise to take note . Florida politicans already do.

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