Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s (R) campaign bus pulled into Walt’s Fish Market in Sarasota on Labor Day to announce a $1 billion tax cut proposal, while his opponent, former Gov. and former Republican Charlie Crist (D), was telling Floridians Bill Clinton would be joining him at a campaign rally Sept. 5.
But first, Crist began the Labor Day weekend by calling on Scott to promise Florida would not challenge U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle’s ruling that struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriages.
“Courts throughout Florida are endorsing the principle that government ought not deprive an entire class of citizens the right to marry simply because of whom they love. Florida deserves a governor who will stand up for all of the people of this state,” Crist wrote in a letter his campaign mailed to Scott.
Taxes and sex are two emotional issues in a very hot election. Winter Springs, Fla.-based Gravis Marketing had the race as a tie in a poll released Sept. 2., 37 percent to 37 percent. And it showed there is a lot of potential to win new support with 26 percent of the 859 registered voters, surveyed through a combination of internet panels and automated calls, still undecided.
The Gravis Marketing poll is the first survey of the Florida gubernatorial race released since Aug. 18 when Survey USA had Scott up by 3 points and the Real Clear Politics average of polls showed Scott up by 1 point.
The Survey USA poll also showed neither Scott nor Crist has the race locked up.
Crist’s support was weakening in Southeast Florida, which includes the all-important markets of Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Crist had led in the Southeast by as many as 25 points at one time, but when the August Survey USA was released it showed the Democrat leading but just 5 points.
Central Florida went to Crist in the August Survey USA poll, but Scott had led there in July.
So neither candidate was close to declaring victory as Scott began a two-week, cross-state bus tour to campaign for another term in Tallahassee, by pushing his $1 billion, two-year tax cut plan for families and small businesses in Sarasota.
Scott’s “Let’s Keep Working” Tax Cut plan includes the following proposals for his second term, each of which requires either voter or legislative approval.
• A constitutional amendment that will prevent families’ property taxes from increasing year after year if the value of their homes remains the same or goes down
• $200 million in tax holidays for Florida families
• Eliminating more of Charlie Crist’s tax and fee increases, including a $120 million fee on automobile purchases
• Cutting the communications service sales tax – a tax on everyone who uses a cell phone – by more than $120 million per year
• Permanently eliminating Florida’s manufacturing sales tax
• Continuing the phase-out of the business income tax to make Florida the best state to start a business and create jobs
• Phasing out the six percent statewide sales tax on commercial leases
“We threw out Charlie Crist’s Obama playbook and cut taxes 40 times, cut spending, and paid down our debt for the first time in decades,” Scott said. “And now we’re going to continue Florida’s turnaround with a $1 billion tax cut commitment to Florida’s families over the next two years.”
Scott is not the first Florida governor to announce massive tax cuts. Gov. Jeb Bush and the Florida State Legislature approved what the Bush administration called the “largest tax cut in (Florida’s) history” in 1999.
The $1.01 billion package trimmed the state’s intangible’s tax, eliminated a per-drink tax on alcohol, rolled back the school property tax rate and lowered the unemployment tax businesses pay, according to the Tampa Bay Times in 2009.
Crist, when he was a Republican and governor of Florida, claimed to cut Floridians’ taxes by $25 billion over five years in 2007 when he signed a tax reduction package that was aimed primarily at property taxes.
However, as the Tampa Bay Times’ PolitiFact.com reported in 2009, it is hard to prove Crist cut taxes by $25 billion because property values crashed in 2008 as the Great Recession came knocking on Florida’s door.
While Scott was beginning his tour of Florida, Crist was calling on one of the most popular Democrats in the U.S., former President Bill Clinton, to help him win the November election.
Crist said he would be campaigning with Clinton in Miami, even though Crist once called for Clinton’s resignation from the White House.
When he ran as a Republican for the U.S. Senate in 1998, Crist told Tim Russert on NBC’s Meet The Press that he believed Clinton had “shattered the confidence and trust of the American people” because of his affair with Monica Lewinsky.
Crist also called for Clinton’s resignation, at the time, because of the Lewinsky scandal, according to The Palm Beach Post.
However, since neither Democrat seems willing to hold a grudge, Crist said in a statement released by his campaign staff, “I’m over the moon about this: President Bill Clinton will be joining us in Miami on Friday, September 5, to kick off the final two months of this campaign.”
The Clinton name means something in Florida, at least when “Hillary” is the given name. The Aug. 19 Survey USA poll of registered voters showed she would win the Sunshine State’s 29 electoral college votes if she ran against Mitt Romney in 2016. But Romney would win those votes if Vice President Joe Biden was leading the Democrats’ ticket.
Previous Survey USA polling for WFLA-TV in Florida also showed that Hillary Clinton would defeat “each and every high-profile Republican in an election today, holding the state for the Democrats, but Biden loses to each and every high-profile Republican today.”
And we all remember how important Florida’s electoral votes were in the Bush-Gore presidential election.