Wexler throws support to Cristby Jane Musgrave | September 26th, 2010
Threading his way through sign-waving critics who labeled him a turncoat, former U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler today took an act that he said he once thought was anathema: He endorsed a onetime GOP standard bearer over the Democratic candidate in the U.S. Senate race.
“There is a special time in which elected officials and people to which people look to have to put country before party and this is one of those times,” the seven-term Democratic Congressman told a crowd of his former constituents at Century Village west of Boca Raton. “I am here to endorse Gov. Charlie Crist because he has earned it. He has truly earned it.”
While Wexler left Congress in January to head up a Middle East think tank, he is still a powerful force among Democrats, particularly in predominantly Jewish communities like the Century Village, said Palm Beach County Commissioner Burt Aaronson. After leaving the sprawling community west of Boca, Wexler headed to another retirement community, Kings Point in Tamarac, to announce his support for Crist over Democrat Kendrick Meek.
“Robert’s everybody’s grandson and they love him,” said Aaronson, a fellow Democrat. Aaronson said he joined the roughly 500 at the noontime rally simply to support Wexler; not to endorse Crist. He said he hasn’t yet decided who to endorse in the three-way race that includes Republican Marco Rubio.
However, he said, if polls show that Meek can’t beat Rubio, he will join Wexler in endorsing Crist, who became an independent when it became clear he couldn’t beat Rubio in the August primary.
“Before early voting begins and before the absentee ballots go out I will be analyzing the polls very closely and if I feel and the people feel that Kendrick Meek can’t be a winner, my vote won’t be for Charlie Crist, it will be against Marco Rubio,” he said. “I’m a loyal Democrat, but one thing we can’t have is Marco Rubio up there swinging and swaying the U.S. Senate. That would be a catastrophe.”
Other Democrats, who stood outside the event waving signs, disagreed.
Harriet Smith, of Boynton Beach, carried a sign supporting Meek that said: “Go With a Lifelong Democrat.”
She said she was disappointed that Wexler jumped ship. “I think Wexler made a big mistake,” she said. “He lost credibility and he lost father with all Democrats in this district.”