Reporter William March has covered state and national politics since 1994. Email
Reporter Mike Salinero has covered Hillsborough County government since 2007. Email
Reporter James L. Rosica covers state government from the Tribune's Tallahassee bureau. Email
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Dems Turn Crist’s “Empty Chair” Attack Back On Him
Posted Mar 3, 2008 by William March
Updated Mar 3, 2008 at 07:20 PM
In 2006, Charlie Crist blasted his Democratic opponent for governor, Jim Davis, over votes Davis missed in Congress, with a series of television ads and campaign rhetoric about Davis’s “empty chair.”
Now the Florida Democratic Party says it’s Crist’s chair that’s empty, as he roams the nation campaigning with John McCain.
On a web site labelled “Empth Chair Charlie,” the Democrats say Crist’s published schedules show that so far this year, he “took off more weekdays than he worked – showing up less than 50% of the time.”
“These days, Floridians are more likely to see their governor’s perpetually sunny face in the background of a McCain campaign press conference than working to deal with the state’s economic crisis,” the web site says.
The party says Crist’s schedules showed 11 full days, six half-days and two more partial days taken for “personal time” on weekdays from Jan. 1-Feb. 13. That means out of 30 weekday workdays, they said, Crist wasn’t there for 15.5 of them.
Crist “spent millions on infamous ‘Empty Chair’ television ads” attacking Davis, the party says. The ads, which featured an empty chair rolling along the streets of Washington, DC, “were largely credited as Crist’s most memorable attack on Davis.”
The web site quotes Crist telling Davis in an October debate between the two, “Jim, as you know, you can’t govern from an empty chair ... I’ll come to work every day.”
“Unfortunately for the people of Florida,” the Democrats say, “the real empty chair – Charlie Crist – won.”
We’re seeking a response from Crist’s office.
Update: Here’s the response from Crist’s press spokeswoman Erin Isaac: “Governor Crist has campaigned with Senator McCain just two days outside of our state. There is no doubt Governor Crist has been focused on Florida - fighting to cut property taxes, working to negotiate lower prescription drug costs with the Florida Discount Drug Card, and just last month announcing aggressive legislative priorities.”
She then listed several of those priorities, including a Crist proposal for health care for the uninsured, a classroom spending mandate, an energy and economic development package and newtechnology for social service caseworkers.