Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts. Founded by Mark Kleiman (1951-2019)
Would a Senator Crist Caucus With the Democrats?
Why would a Senator Crist caucus with the people who put a knife in his back?
Now that it looks like Florida Governor Charlie CristÂ might run for the US Senate seat as an independent, and that he has a decent chance of winning, we might think for a moment about what kind of Senator he could be.
If Crist gets in the race as an Indy, expect the punditocracy to compare him to Joe Lieberman, and predict that if elected he would caucus with the Republicans.Â But there is one huge difference in the two cases.
When Lieberman was challenged from the left, every Democratic officeholder backed him in the primary.Â Barack Obama came to Connecticut to campaign for him.Â Chris Dodd endorsed him (this was before the financial meltdown and such an endorsement might have been worth something). Only after Holy Joe lost the primary did Democrats turn to Ned Lamont, the party’s official winner.
Contrast this with Florida: there, Republicans are fleeing to wingnut Marco Rubio’s campaign well before the primary.Â That tells you — and it should tell Crist — a hell of a lot about his Republican friends.Â And it should also give him pause about caucusing with the GOP if he wins the race.
There is one other important difference that militates against my argument: Lieberman was an incumbent Senator, and Crist of course is not.Â But I don’t see that as particularly relevant here.Â Crist was recruited by national Republicans.Â He saved John McCain’s presidential campaign in the Florida primary — and was rewarded this week by attacks from Arizona’s senior senator.Â Â All his supposed friendsÂ went south on him as soon as it got tough; they didn’t even bother with neutrality.Â Once Crist takes the knife out of his back, he might consider whom he would be able to trust in the Senate — if he gets there.
Author: Jonathan Zasloff
Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees.
Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses.
Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.
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