Charlie’s break

Published: Sunday, November 1, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 30, 2009 at 11:39 p.m.

Senator In Waiting Charlie Crist finally caught a break.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for the SIW.

Of late, it seems that nothing’s gone right for the man with Florida’s best tan and most beloved smiley face.

And that is passing strange.

Because Charlie has been so successful at pretending to be governor that we all assumed he would stroll into his next gig — pretending to be a U.S. senator — without breaking a sweat.

But he may be sweating a tad now.

Yes, the latest Quinnipiac University poll shows Crist with a 50 percent to 35 percent lead over his primary election opponent, former state House Speaker Marco Rubio.

Impressive at first blush.

Until you consider that his lead was twice that just last August.

And then there’s the Curse of the Hug.

Earlier this year, when Florida was flat broke and our SIW wanted nothing more to take the fed’s money and run, Crist was an enthusiastic supporter of Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package.

He even appeared in public with the president (a known socialist, by the way) to promote the stimulus package.

Why, Charlie even gave Obama a little hug.

Big mistake.

Now Rubio is flashing photos of The Hug everywhere he goes.

By way of damage control, Crist has been running radio spots declaring: “Enough is enough. That’s my message to President Obama. We can’t spend our way into prosperity or tax our way into growth.”

But the damage has been done.

Crist has been taking a drubbing in a series of “unofficial” county-level Republican Party straw polls.

He seems destined to be forever remembered as the Republican who hugged Obama.

Not that our SIW hasn’t tried to put distance between himself and the First Socialist.

When Obama came to Florida last week to promote green energy, Crist was nowhere to be found.

Even though Crist was pretending to be the Green Governor long before he was pretending to be the Conservative Governor.

But then reporters asked the SIW why he wasn’t on hand to greet the Green President.

Crist at first denied even knowing that Obama was in Florida.

That was lame, Charlie.

Then he had to fess up.

“I think everyone in the planet knew he was in Florida,” Crist acknowledged. “I did not have his line-by-line itinerary.”

Listen, it’s a tough job, pretending to be governor.

There’s hardly any time for anything else on the schedule.

Let alone memorizing the president’s “line-by-line itinerary.”

It only gets worse.

Crist’s campaign has been bragging about his “A” fiscal rating with the arch-conservative Cato Institute.

But now the Cato Institute says the A grade was awarded in May 2008.

And that since then the SIW has “fallen off the fiscal responsibility horse,” approving a stiff new tax on cigarettes and a raft of fee increases.

And it’s only gotten grimmer for Gov. Sunshine.

Last week, a column on branded Crist “America’s worst governor,” calling him a “lightweight.”

“Well, I only weigh 165, so that’s true,” retorted the SIW, bravely trying to keep up his smiley face.

Then came a tasteless video on YouTube likening Crist to Hitler.

A cruel slur heretofore reserved almost exclusively for Barack Obama.

Anyway, after all that, Charlie was due a break.

And sure enough, he got one.

Last week, the Washington Post asked readers, via its online Fix Poll, to select “The most overrated governor in the country.”

The nominees were:

* Pennsylvania’s Ed Rendell.

* Florida SIW Charlie Crist.

* Indiana’s Mitch Daniels.

* Maryland’s Martin O’Malley.

* Rick Perry of Texas.

* Brian Schweitzer of Montana.

After more than 9,000 votes cast, the winner is...

(May I have the envelope, please.)

Texan Rick Perry, by 43 percent.

With Charlie running a mere second, at 35 percent.

Congrats, Charlie.

You are officially not the most overrated pretend governor in America.

You are the second most overrated.

Good on you.

Because you deserve a break today.

Ron Cunningham is editorial page editor for The Sun. Contact him at voice@gvillesun or at 352-374-5075. Read his blog, Under The Sun, at

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