Ignore the attacks, judge me by my deeds

Charlie Crist, The People’s Governor

I’m Charlie Crist. The real Charlie Crist – not the one you may have heard about in some shady ad on the radio. Ads that flat out lie about me and my record. No one knows who’s paying for the ads, and while I’m not a gambler, I’ll bet it’s Rick Scott’s cronies. These commercials are not designed to convince you to vote for someone – they are designed to convince you not to vote at all.

Who has an interest in that?

Rick Scott has a record of making it harder for folks to vote. I believe voting is a civil right. Period.

When I was Governor and I saw people standing for hours to vote in 2008, I extended early voting hours.  I also brought back the paper ballot, so that every voter can be confident their vote will count.

On the other hand, Rick Scott has done everything in his power to make it harder to vote.  He signed a law making it harder to register to vote, restricted early voting days, and tried to purge nearly 200,000 lawful citizens from the voting rolls – 87 percent of which were people of color. He even supported the recent Supreme Court decision gutting the Voting Rights Act.

And, Scott even changed the law to make it harder for those who had paid their debt to society to get their right to vote restored, something that as Governor I reformed by bringing Republicans and Democrats together.

In fairness, Rick Scott is not a dumb man.  He knows from the 2008 and 2012 elections that when African American, Haitian American and Caribbean American voters go to the polls, his party simply cannot win.   The more people that stay home, the better the chance he and his buddies will get re-elected.  And trust me, he hopes you will stay home.

Why? Because he doesn’t want you to know about his decision to try to cut education by more than $4 billion, even as he gave tax breaks to big corporations and the wealthy. Nor does he want you to know that he refused to lift a finger to expand healthcare coverage to nearly 1 million Floridians – funding that would have created nearly 64,000 jobs – or that the idea of raising the minimum wage makes him “cringe.”

The African-American community has been hit the hardest by Rick Scott’s top-down approach. The unemployment rate is higher in the African-American community than it is statewide – in fact, the unemployment rate among African American males is double the state average.

We need a governor who understands we need to build from the middle class out – to invest in our middle class families and those trying to lift themselves up, not simply those at the top.

But this is not only about how we reduce unemployment, or how we improve our schools, or address gun violence and mass incarceration in our communities. All of those issues are crucial – but they all come down to a fundamental question of respect. The Governor should respect every community in the state, not just those that vote for him. And if you respect a community, you don’t actively try to prevent them from participating in the democratic process.

Sadly this lack of respect is not new – the companies he ran had a history of discriminating against African-American and Hispanic employees and customers too.

Look, the Lord knows I am not perfect and I do not have all the answers – no one does. That’s why we are strongest as a state when we all come together to solve the problems we face. That’s why, when President Obama offered stimulus funding to save 20,000 teachers’ jobs at the height of the great recession, I took it. That’s why, when he came to Florida offering help, I stood with him – and got thrown out of the Republican Party for doing so.

So I ask of you: ignore the lying, race baiting ads from Rick Scott’s cronies, ignore the distortions of my record, and judge me by my deeds.

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