Crist’s BSO Pick

Gov. Charlie Crist will soon fill the vacant Broward Sheriff’s Office job, and his choice may offer some insight on how far off the Republican reservation this maverick Governor is willing to roam.
Crist, of course, is already outraging many in his party by his consistent “governing from the middle”. I grabbed a few quotes about the Gov off the St. Pete Times political blog just this evening:

“I knew he wouldn’t be as conservative as Jeb. I just didn’t think he would be more liberal than Debbie Wasserman Schulz (sic).”
“Crist is a joke.”
“Don’t blame me I voted for Tom.” (Gallagher, Crist’s more conservative primary opponent last year).

These critiques are fairly typical of what conservative Republicans have been blogging for months now. They see Crist as a turncoat, championing “liberal” subjects like global warming and restoration of felons’ civil rights, but all-too-ready to compromise his tough talk on tax cuts in this rubber-meets-the-road special session.
So will Crist cross party lines in filling the top elected job in Florida’s most Democratic county?
By my count, he’s interviewed 7 Democrats and just 3 Republicans, so far.
His first choice may well have been a Democrat who wasn’t interested– St. Rep. Jack Seiler of Wilton Manors, who says Crist sounded him out about the job, early on. Seiler, however, wants to run for Ft. Lauderdale mayor next year, and shot down the idea of taking the sheriff’s job as anything but a temp gig.
Seiler has offered advice to Crist about his Broward choices, and another prominent South Fla Dem is also weighing in. House (D) leader Dan Gelber of Miami Beach has reportedly put an old friend and colleague from the U.S. Attorney’s Office into the running for the Sheriff’s job.
Jeff Sloman’s quoted in the Herald as saying: “I never thought of applying for the position until Gelber came up to me…” He applied Saturday, and was interviewed by the Gov Monday, according to the Herald.
There seems to be a lot of Democratic input in this Republican Gov’s choice, though I don’t pretend to know the whole roster of pols that Crist or his Chief of Staff, George Lemieux (a former Broward GOP Chair) are contacting on this pick.
The 3 Republicans reportedly interviewed so far– acting Sheriff Al Lamberti, former Sheriff Nick Navarro, and the Chief Legal Counsel at the Miami-Dade Police, Glenn Theobald.
One Crist confidante told me– keeping Lamberti in the job in an interim capacity (until the elections in November ’08) is the most likely option if the Gov wants to pick someone from his own party, though this assessment preceded Crist’s interviews with the candidates. Crist has said Lamberti’s doing a good job so far. The 29-year BSO vet clearly knows the department. If appointed Interim Sheriff, Lamberti might run again next year, on the GOP line.
Why would Crist choose a Democrat? The reading I get from both parties is, it would be a recognition that Republicans, now down to just 26% of Broward’s registered voters, have no shot at winning a countywide election, even with a relatively apolitical police pro like Lamberti as their standard-bearer.
It was 15 years ago that Republican Navarro occupied the post. Back then, Democrats actually had a bigger chunk of the Broward electorate (over 55%, as opposed to 51% now), but Republicans were in the game, with a little better than a third of the electorate. Now, Broward may be “Mission Impossible” for the GOP in a Sheriff’s election.
So Crist may want to install a Democrat he has some relationship with, perhaps someone who would ward off a bid by a more partisan Dem (ex-State Sen. Skip Campbell’s interested in running for the job next year, but did not apply to be considered for appointment by Crist).
This week, the tax-cutting agenda of the special session may dominate the Governor’s attention, but he was saying last week he was ready to act “soon” on the Broward vacancy. It will be a fascinating choice that will shed light on the relative weight this Gov gives political vs. personal vs. professional factors.


There are no comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: