Party switching for convenience vs. true feelings.

I'm a Democrat. No, really....
I’m a Democrat. No, really….

Since the Florida Democratic Party chair’s race, much of the attention has now been shifted toward the race for Florida House Democratic leader as well as the governor’s race. In both of these cases, we have former Republicans who have taken the lead in both of these races. This in itself has caused a new controversy in Florida Democratic politics.

In a response to one of our other articles, someone pointed out that Florida Democrats should embrace those that are switching over to our side. And while I totally agree with that belief, those that do switch to become Democrats should be carefully watched.

The reason that I say this is because there is a history that those that have switched over from Republican to Democrat do so for some sort of political gain. On the other hand, those that switch the other way usually do so because they are truly Republicans at heart. So, let’s look at a few examples.

First, let’s look at the Florida House of Representatives. Sherri McInvale switched from Democrat to Republican. She was always one of the most conservative Democrats in the Florida House. So in 2006, she decided to switch parties and become a Republican. This move actually hurt her in her liberal Winter Park district (which was eventually won by Scott Randolph). True, she did have a nice lobbying job waiting for her at the end, but the Republican Party matched her views on economic issues more than the Democratic Party. Therefore, even though with switching parties she guaranteed that she would lose her seat, she did it nonetheless. Just a few months later, Will Kendrick would switch parties. Again, his views on the issues were closer to the Republicans than the Democrats.

Of course, I can mention other party switchers such as Richard Shelby, Ralph Hall, Parker Griffith and Virgil Goode, but none of them belong in today’s Democratic Party. So their switch makes sense.

Now, let’s look over at the Democratic Party. The first major switch of this type was from the late Senator Arlen Specter. While he had always been one of the more liberal Republicans in the Senate, Democrats never thought he was one of their own. But Specter decided to switch not because he was so thrilled to become a Democrat, but instead because of a matter of convenience. He knew he couldn’t win the Republican primary against Pat Toomey. Therefore, he thought he would give a run against Joe Sestak a try. Well, that didn’t work out quite so well for Specter. Still, the timing of his switch was particularly odd.

Now let’s take a look at Florida and the two men that we have been discussing over the last few days. First we have Darryl Rouson. As many of you know, Rouson was not only a Crist ally, but also a registered Republican. While he is liberal on many issues, he does have a conservative streak on others. Still, in order for him to run in the predominately African American St. Petersburg to Sarasota House seat, he knew he couldn’t do it as a Republican. Therefore, switching parties was “convenient” for him. He would go on to win that seat and is in the House today.

As for Charlie Crist, this one is easy. As we all know, Crist couldn’t beat Marco Rubio in the primary. Therefore, he decided to become an independent, as he could take votes away from Democrat Kendrick Meek in order to beat Rubio. This plan didn’t work and Rubio won decisively. After Crist’s loss, he tried to connect himself with powerful Democrats before he made his switch. He campaigned all over the state with other Democratic candidates, usually only picking people that he knows personally. When he was invited to speak at the DNC Convention in September, he sounded more like a Republican that didn’t like his party than a Democrat (though, in all fairness, he wasn’t a Democrat yet). But even since then, Crist hasn’t made any convincing arguments that he is a Democrat. All we know is that he isn’t a Republican (something many of us have been saying for years), buy why is he a Democrat?

If we truly want to be fair, we can also say that Charlie Crist is the reason that we currently have Governor Rick Scott. Let’s got back to the 2010 election. The race that was top billing was the Senate race. But Democrats found themselves in a pickle. Democrats had to decide if they wanted to be a good Democrat and vote for Kendrick Meek. Or, do they want to see Marco Rubio lose, so they voted for Charlie Crist. This vote splitting made it that Rubio’s win was inevitable. Therefore, many registered Democrats might have stayed home because they knew they were throwing away their vote in the Senate race.

On the other hand, because these voters didn’t turn out, this means that Alex Sink was deprived of thousands of votes. Enough people might have decided not to vote because of the Senate race that is actually cost Alex Sink the win. Therefore, one could easily look at Crist’s self centered (sorry, hyphen button isn’t working) decision as a deciding factor in the election of Rick Scott.

While Rouson’s switch is questionable, it still has some validity because of his voting record in the House. Overall it isn’t bad, but he is on the wrong side of education issues.

Crist, on the other hand, seems to purely be using the Democratic Party only for his advantage. He has yet to give Democrats in the state the “I am a Democrat because…” speech. Yes, he says that the Republican Party moved away from him, but all that does is explain why he isn’t a Republican anymore, not why he is a Democrat now. Until Crist can identify himself as a Democrat, registered, loyal Democrats around the state are being taken for a ride by this guy.

12 thoughts on “Party switching for convenience vs. true feelings.”

  1. Get your facts right: Rouson was only a registered Republican for a period of 2 years (2005-2007), while he was a Democrat both before and after that. If anything, I would say he made a mistake and realized it before he got elected as a Democrat

  2. Will Kendrick actually switched because he was running for local office in Franklin County and he thought that would help him in the race. At least that was the reason he gave, so I am not sure how much “conviction” was in it.

    McInvale voted like a Republican but was quite frankly too stupid to have any convictions. Talk about a dim light and that is saying a lot by Florida Legislature standards. She was probably too stupid to realize she would get beat in 2006 BADLY in that district as an R.

    Sandy Murman was another interesting one. Flipped completely on a bunch of economic issues after her party switch. She was always conservative socially, but fiscally she was not until she switched.

  3. First, don’t be surprised if Crist takes a sub Cabinet position and bides his time for Nelson to retire.

    Secondly, it boils down to this, do the majority of Democrats want to be martyrs riding the Titanic with Sink or Rich or take a chance with Crist who is far from the perfect Dem but has the best chance of possibly winning.

    The need here is to break the Republican streak for Gov, Crist while flawed offers that chance. Once one domino falls they all may fall when the Cabinet is up after term limits in 18′.

    Sad reality, especially here in South Florida, martyrdom is preferred.

  4. Why do you assume that Crist is the only Democrat that can win election? If our new party leadership does what it has promised and gets behind any of the good candidates that win in the primary election the task won’t be so difficult. If the party gets out the vote in an off year winning shouldn’t be a problem. That’s why we elected new leadership-to energize the party.

  5. Even so, not an excuse. Why would someone change from Democrat to Republican during that time period, as the party was already starting to make a sharp right-wing turn. In addition, are you use that Rouson was a registered Democrat before, or was he an independent or NPA?

  6. Donor ditching the state party

    Crist needs to buy 2 years time. Because if DWS and buddy’s push Crist and lose they will have no party left. Crist’s is baggage is HUGE and we are not even addressing the baggage that is not yet public.

  7. Donor ditching the state party

    If this schmuck is the leader in the house…with Crist. I might as well change my party to an I. I can switch in primaries. You guys are idiots. Look at this..his words not mine!

    Representative Rouson’s Remarks on SB6


    There were a number of very articulate speeches on the floor of the Florida House of Representatives in last night’s 9 hour debate on controversial Senate Bill 6.

    Below are Representative Rouson’s (D, Distric 55) comments — full of topography, imagry, and embedded truths.

    I have a lot to say and very little time. And I did not want to beat a dead horse. But It is very clear that I must give all I have for those that I represent because that is why I was elected. District 55 must be counted.

    My colleagues have said all the specifics.

    But I want to thank my constituents and friends, teachers and administrators, all of those like, Ms. Range, Ms. Givens and Hodges at Belle Witter Elem, and Ms. Cooper who was in first grade with me and graduated from high school with me, and later in life went back to teaching, and all those who took the time to write me. I heard you.

    Momma, I thank you for sacrificing 30+ years of your life to teaching and I am so glad you retired long ago….to Ms. Ann Burney, my second grade teacher whom I admire to this day….I am sorry. But I am glad you are retired.

    Now members forgive me for not being more erudite, more excellent in linguistic explanatory expressions of critical educational insults, I mean insights, of Senate Bill 6.

    Forgive me for not being more pontifical in my philosophical prognostication that this portends failure, I mean future success.

    I learned from you, Momma, that if the shoe fits, take it off.

    What that means to me is if in any way we have become complacent, lackadaisical or indifferent in teaching our children, then we must do differently because it is about the best interest of the children…..if we are failing them then we must do different. Bad teachers must go.

    Everyone admits that we must do more for our children because in some respects we are failing them. In some respects they are not achieving the way they should so we must take the shoe off and challenge ourselves to walk differently…..

    but I submit that we must listen and include experts, the professional educators and teachers as we walk.

    Instead this bill shoves down their throat prescription without participation;

    A remedy without remediation and a solution without adequately processing for inclusion substantive suggestions.

    We should heed the protests soberly.

    Secondly, my momma said, “Son, if it smells baby, it just smells.” She said, “Trust your gut.” I don’t need all of those who wrote me and called me to tell me this legislation smells.

    Members, with all due respect. Can’t you see how many people, professional people are truly holding their noses over this legislation??

    Lastly, somewhere I read that a good teacher is like a candle, it consumes itself to light the way for others.

    If that be true then why shouldn’t I be feeling like this bill is lighting the way for us?

    Instead I lay my head at night restless feeling the great pall and shadow of uncertain implementation and greater uncertain affect.

    In criminal jury trials we tell the jury as they begin deliberations that their verdict must be based on an abiding sense of guilt. Abiding sense, not fleeting or swinging sense but a deep and firm conviction.

    Why does not this legislation give more people an abiding sense of correctness?

    In fact the seal of the supreme court official motto is the latin phrase “sat cito si recte” which means “soon enough if done rightly.” And it indicates the importance of taking the time necessary to reach the correct result.

    You can follow Representative Darryl Rouson on twitter at @darrylrouson.

    Post to Digg
    Add to Diigo
    Add to Google Bookmarks
    Add to MySpace
    Post to Blogger
    Post to Ning
    Add to Reddit
    Add to Plaxo Pulse
    Post to StumbleUpon
    Add to Technorati Favorites
    Send via Gmail
    Add to FriendFeed

    Related posts:
    1.Teachers’ Voices Fall on Deaf Ears in #SB6 Debate
    2.From Florida Teachers to Florida Legislators: Thanks!
    3.Connecting the Dots in Florida: Inside SB6′s Players
    4.(Some) FL Republican Legislators’ Letter to Crist: Veto #SB6
    5.Governor Crist’s #SB6 Veto Letter

    Tags: Darryl Rouson, Education Policy, Education Reform, SB6, Teachers

    Author:Jason Flom
    Learner. Educator. Reader. Writer. Cyclist. Part-time Polyanna. Husband. Daddy. Founder, Ecology of Education. Director of Learning Platforms, Q.E.D. Foundation. Twitter: @JasonFlom. LinkedIn: Jason Flom; Edutopia’s Green School Group; and doing dishes while pretending to be a professional underground rapper. “I regard it as the foremost task of education to insure the survival of these qualities: an enterprising curiosity, an undefeatable spirit, tenacity in pursuit, readiness for sensible self denial, and above all, compassion.” Kurt Hahn

  8. Trotter you know must know nothing about Crist. Long before he was a Democrat he was a Liberal Conservative. I suggest you educate yourself on the man. Start with his speech in Miami at the 2008 Republican Governors Association annual conference called “Listen to the Voters and Serve”. Sold me on the guy, I knew there were good things coming from that man.

  9. If Crist wins the primary, he gets my vote. I don’t mind seeing this one play out at the polls. I’m not a big fan of the man (I voted for Meek, for sure), but he would be far better than another Scott administration. What’s with the hand wringing?

  10. Yup, as far as people who claimed to be conservatives go, he was liberal one. Thus the party switching.