Crist Wins D’s Applause, R’s Silence

  Charlie Crist’s about-face on expanding early voting hours won immediate applause– from Democrats.  Within minutes of issuing Exec Order 08-217, Crist was getting e-mailed press-release bouquets from Cong. Kendrick Meek (D-Miami), Cong. Alcee Hastings (D) Ft. Lauderdale, and Fla. Democratic Party chief Karen Thurman.   The Congressmen pointed out, they’d urged the Gov to expand early voting.  The Chairwoman chimed in: “Crist did the right thing.”

   Ordinarily, her Republican counterpart, Jim Greer, is quick to note any major Crist developments.  Earlier in the week, he ballyhooed Crist being mentioned on a Time magazine list of the five most important pols not running for President.  But, on the broadening of early voting, Greer has been silent.

   Democrats, of course, have done well in early voting.  54% of early voters in Week 1 were Democrats.  30% were Republicans.  Expanding Week 2 hours might help the D’s add to that advantage.  Little wonder Steve Schale of the FL Obama campaign eventually weighed in with another attaboy press release– “We applaud Governor Crist”. 

   The Governor says he acted on behalf of FL voters, without regard to political consequence.  Crist was at McCain’s side this morning in Miami, encouraging those attending to vote early, vote by mail, or vote next Tuesday.  He says he sees encouraging signs of a come-from-behind McCain victory in FL.

   Sen. Mel Martinez was also at McCain’s side in Miami.  Asked about fears that expansion of early voting was a boon to Obama, Martinez replied: “We can’t be the party depending on people not getting to the polls ’cause the doors closed on them.  We’ve got to be the party that’s driving people to the polls because of our convictions, so I don’t fear that.”

   Meanwhile, extended hours had a pretty big impact in Miami-Dade.  In eight hours on Tuesday, about 25,000 voters cast ballots.  In  12 hours on Wednesday, that count was up to nearly 36,000.  Broward and the state elections web sites have yet to post yesterday’s totals (as of 7 AM).

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