Nan Rich, in an attempt to stay valid, has countered the entrance of Charlie Crist in the race for the Democratic Party's nomination to run for governor by stating the she supports creating legislation to allow medical marijuana in the state. Fine. No doubt the legislature will march in lockstep with the demands of a brazen new governor, throwing aside their conservatism in the process.
The funny thing about Florida Democrats is that they seem to, often times, be willing to say anything to "one up" the other. Really there is no difference between the two other than one has been a Democrat longer than the other yet operatives within the Rich campaign would have us all think that their candidate is a progressive - a term liberals love to use when campaigning, and often seem to conveniently forget should they win.
Despite the new interest in medical marijuana Nan Rich's campaign also calls for an expansion of Florida's Medicaid Program. Despite the implications that Rich may be the more progressive Democrat by advocating such a stance but in reality Rich abstained from voting on HJR 37, Prohibiting Individual Healthcare Mandate, passed April 22nd, 2010. This legislation prevents Floridians from finding out how they can sign up for expanded, subsidized coverage at county health departments. This is the infamous legislation Governor Rick Scott put in place in an attempt to thwart the Affordable Care Act by simply legislating "a lack of willingness" as those who go to their local health department will not receive information unless they ask for it.
Oddly, the candidate that voted in the past not to privatize medicaid, Nan Rich, was quiet on this issue. It would seem that this would be the perfect opportunity for an individual of conviction to stand against the Governor on this issue. Yet Rich was quiet allowing this to pass without a word.
On the other side, everyone knows Charlie Crist supports a privatized system. Everyone remembers Cover Florida - right? Cover Florida is basically a plan similar to the ACA where individuals can purchase insurance for reduced premiums - less than $150 - regardless of pre-existing condition. He launched the program in 2008 when he was Governor of Florida. The program became unsustainable when the ACA was passed in 2009.
As far as medical marijuana goes both back the issue or said they would. John Morgan in March announced that he would back an effort to get legislation passed in Florida to legalize medical marijuana. John Morgan has backed Crist and President Obama in the past so it is highly likely that should Crist, who polls 12% higher than Rick Scott 50 to 38% according to publicpolicypolling.com, will back this kind of legislation in earnest and will have at least some political clout in Tallahassee to get it passed.
Nan Rich on the other hand polls a point underneath Scott at 37%. What this means is that unless Rich can interest independents, she has little chance of winning. Independents in Florida traditionally have voted for the more conservative candidate. Even if she did win there is little anyone should expect given her general charisma and voting record. Sure she has taken some stances in the past on a few issues that are important yet on the environment she has voted for deregulation of growth management - SB 360 - legislation that shifts costs of underwriting new schools, road, and other infrastructure from developers to taxpayers. Legislation that was challenged in the courts by cities as being unconstitutional.
But what does this mean for Democrats longing to take by the capital. It's simple; in a field between Nan Rich and Charlie Crist both are equally as liberal with little exceptions and equally as centrist by definition of Florida politics. The only real difference is marketability which heavily favors Charlie Crist. But ultimately there are no progressives running for Governor in Florida.