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SB 6’

UPDATE: Another Crist pal jumps campaign ship

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Gov. Charlie Crist‘s campaign says his website hasn’t changed at all now that the U.S. Senate candidate is openly considering dropping out of the GOP primary and running as an independent.

“No Republican references have been scrubbed from our website, period,” Crist’s campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in an e-mail.

Rep. Tom Grady resigned as Crist’s regional campaign chairman today and quit his finance team, citing the website that makes no reference to the governor’s GOP affiliation.

Grady, a Naples Republican who was elected to the House in 2008 at Crist’s urging, is the latest GOP ally to distance himself from Crist and his U.S. Senate campaign after Crist admitted he is considering abandoning the Republican primary race against former House Speaker Marco Rubio and running instead in the general election in November with no party affiliation.

“This evening, as I reviewed your updated campaign website, I noticed a disheartening fact. Your website has eliminated all references to our Republican Party, or as you frequently refer to it, the party of Lincoln,” Grady wrote in a letter to Crist today distributed to the media by Trey Communications.

Once a sure shot to win in the primary against Rubio, recent polls show Crist trailing the Miami Cuban-American by about 20 percentage points.

Yesterday, National Republican Senate Committee Executive Director fueled speculation that Crist would abandon the GOP race saying there was “zero chance” Crist would run against Rubio.

Things change,” Crist told reporters today when asked how he would explain to voters leaving the GOP primary after repeatedly saying he would not do so.

Grady was one of the few Republicans who attended the governor’s press conference at which Crist announced he would veto SB 6, the contentious teacher merit pay measure pushed by GOP leaders in the legislature.

Former U.S. Sen. Connie Mack III, Crist’s mentor whose name the governor frequently invokes, withdrew as Crist’s campaign chairman after the veto Thursday.

Read Grady’s letter after the jump.

Senate rules chairman urges Crist to veto ‘unconstitutional mess’ teacher pay bill

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Sen. Alex Villalobos, the Republican Rules Committee chairman, joined a slew of Democratic lawmakers urging Gov. Charlie Crist to veto the contentious teacher pay bill.

But Villalobos used a different tack to persuade the governor, who has until midnight Friday to act on the measure (SB 6): it’s a “constitutional mess.”

Villalobos argued in a letter to Crist sent Tuesday that the bill that virtually eliminates job security for teachers and bases their salary increases on how well their students perform on standardized tests poses a host of potential constitutional problems.


NAACP to hold mansion vigil Thursday for teacher pay veto

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010 by Dara Kam

The local chapter of the NAACP is holding a prayer vigil at the governor’s mansion Thursday night to encourage Gov. Charlie Crist to veto a controversial teacher pay bill.

Crist has until midnight Friday to act on the bill, and recently said the tremendous opposition to the measure (SB 6) has made a “fairly significant impression” on him.

State Sen. Tony Hill, D-Jacksonville, is helping organize the vigil, which is slated to begin at 7 p.m. unless Crist takes action on the measure first.

NAACP Tallahassee chapter president Dale Landry said the bill will force teachers to kick poor-performing students out of their classes because their salaries will be tied to how well the children score on standardized tests.

“You’re talking about a person’s livelihood being tied to children” and factors outside the classroom over which teachers have no control, Landry said.

“To me that’s criminal,” he said.

Crist not getting much pressure from Speaker Cretul on teacher bill

Friday, April 9th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Gov. Charlie Crist said he’s being leaned on more heavily about the sweeping teacher pay reforms now on his desk or veto than on any other issue since he took office three years ago.

But caught in the hallway on his way out of the Capitol this afternoon, House Speaker Larry Cretul didn’t have much to say about the measure (SB 6).

When asked what he would tell the governor to try to convince him to sign it into law, Cretul said simply: “It’s a good bill.”

That’s it?

“Yes it is. Sixty-six people thought it was a good bill,” Cretul said.

Oops. Democratic members nearby corrected the leader. The final vote was 64-55.

“Well, I’m working it,” Cretul said.

Maybe the Ocala Republican was more tired than taciturn.

Cretul was at the podium through much of the eight-hour debate on the measure that dragged on until just before 2:30 a.m. this morning.

‘Sucker-punch to the gut’ of teachers or visionary reform? Crist has seven days to pick a side on teacher tenure

Friday, April 9th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Gov. Charlie Crist has a week to decide if the controversial teacher merit pay bill is a “sucker-punch to the gut of the teaching profession” or a visionary reform now that SB 6 has reached his desk.

The “teacher tenure” bill poses a conundrum for the U.S. Senate candidate framed in the old Pete Seeger union song, Which Side Are You On?

The self-described “People’s Governor” is facing mounting pressure from fellow Republicans to sign SB 6 into law and from Democrats demanding that he kill the bill.

Crist originally said he thought the merit-pay proposal was a good idea. But after tens of thousands of teachers, parents and students inundated lawmakers’ offices and his own with phone calls and e-mails blasting the plan, his enthusiasm may be waning.

“The more you listen, the more you learn,” Crist told reporters Thursday morning. “There are things I like and things that give me some concern,” in the bill. “I’m listening to the people of Florida — my boss.”

After the House passed the bill at 2:30 this morning, Speaker Larry Cretul urged the governor to keep his word.

“I believe we have passed legislation this morning that is important,” Cretul, R-Ocala, said. “It is legislation I believe the governor should want to sign. I take him at his word that he will.”

But even before the measure reached Crist’s desk shortly after noon today, Democrats ramped up demands that Crist to put his red pen to use.

Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, a Democrat running to replace Crist, called on the governor to “stand with the people of Florida against this attempt by Tallahassee politicians to take control away from our local schools.”

Her campaign this morning launched an online petition for Floridians to sign to request the veto.

Senate Democratic Leader Al Lawson said in a statement “our governor needs to stand his ground” and veto the bill Lawson called a “sucker-punch to the gut of the teaching profession.”

Read the full story here.

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