| Columns |

Charlie Crist Is No Friend to African-Americans in Florida

Uncle Luke, the man whose booty-shaking madness made the U.S. Supreme Court stand up for free speech, gets as nasty as he wants to be for Miami New Times. This week, Luke finds parallels between inner city violence and wars abroad.

The Democratic Party in Florida is such a joke that its best candidate for governor is a flip-flopping clown. Charlie Crist has been busy reinventing himself as a liberal, but it's not fooling voters. Last week, a mysterious political group aired ads on black radio stations accusing Crist of disproportionately harming African-Americans by siding with gun rights groups and imposing harsh sentencing and drug policies.

The spots exaggerate Crist's record, but he certainly wasn't helping black people when he was a legislator, education commissioner, and governor. In 1998, when he was a legislator, Crist fought a proposal by then-Gov. Lawton Chiles based on the Brady Law that would have instituted national gun controls. The measure died in committee. "Unfortunately, we're in a state that's number one in violent crime in America," Crist said at the time. "And for us to make moves that would disarm our law-abiding citizens would be inappropriate."

During his tenure as state education commissioner from 2001 to 2003, Crist implemented then-Gov. Jeb Bush's A+ Plan, which paved the way for standardized testing at public schools, student vouchers, and charter schools. Oh, and while he was attorney general, he once went by the nickname "Chain Gang Charlie" for his successful efforts to bring back the public humiliation of chain gangs.

The Democratic Party is foolish to believe Crist will persuade African-Americans to vote for him. But picking him is exactly why Democrats have no real power in Florida. The only person willing to challenge the status quo is Nan Rich, the 72-year-old former state senator.

Where are the fresh faces of the Democratic Party? It killed Kendrick Meek's chances when it abandoned him during the 2010 U.S. Senate race in favor of Charlie the chameleon, who was running as an independent against eventual winner Marco Rubio. Meek was a promising African-American Democrat in his 30s, and liberals of every color would have rallied around him had he gotten the support he deserved.

Instead, Florida Democrats are proving they are no different from the Grand Old Party. African-Americans and minorities who identify as Democrats need to follow the Tea Party's lead. Let's create the Hip-Hop Party. It's time to get radical.

Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1 and @unclelukesempir.

Tune into Luke on the Andy Slater Show every Tuesday from 2 to 5 p.m. on Miami's Sports Animal, 940 AM.

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