By all accounts, Gov. Crist of Florida has designs on higher (and highest) office some day. Maybe he thinks the Senate is a good place to go to do that. Just like Bob Dole and Bob Dole 2.0 (John McCain).
But Gov. Crist has a chance to set himself on the right path. Of course he can follow Bill Owens’ (R-Colo.) well-worn path from Presidential front runner to tax-hiking, GOP-smashing obscurity. For Crist the ride is on the back of the Republican-controlled Florida senate-passed tax hike.
Or…Gov. Crist could prove himself a Reagan Republican by drawing the line in the sand against tax hikes during the hard-hitting recession in Florida. He has an opportunity to redeem himself and show leadership. Budgets from both the House and Senate are riddled with tax increases, running over $65 billion apiece, but thus far the governor is failing to show the way forward to avoid tax increases. He watched as the Florida senate, the day after taxpayers all over the country rallied in opposition to more taxes and more spending voted 39-0 for a budget that included numerous tax increases. When will he act? If he does, he’ll ride in on a white horse and become a rising conservative star. He’ll avoid the one mistake Reagan always deeply regretted as governor.
If he doesn’t stop this tax increase dead in its tracks, he still may just barely limp into the Senate, where some lackluster Republicans have warmed a seat for him for a few years. And in 20 or 30 years when tired GOPers decide it’s “his turn” he might just find himself Bob Dole 3.0, a foregone loser. That’s the best case. More likely: Bill Owens-style devastation of the state GOP followed by obscurity.