Florida Lawmakers Push "Sore Loser" Law

In April, Charlie Crist shocked Florida's political world when he left the Republican Party. Crist says he left because the GOP is no longer his ideological soul mate, but at the time polls showed him to be trailing Marco Rubio for the senate nomination. Legislators want to make sure what they're calling political opportunism doesn't happen again.

Down by double digits, struggling to keep his political future alive, Charlie Crist did what he had to… bid the Republican Party goodbye.

“It is a decision for all the people of Florida to be able to make,” he said. “And, so that's why we go straight to November! We give you the chance to make that decision!”

Today, he's an independent - in Florida parlance, a 'no party affiliation' candidate, who didn't have to win a primary to make it to the November ballot.

Say what you will about his motives, but in the end Charlie Crist is playing by the rules, rules determined by the republicans who control the capitol.

Under Florida law, the governor's switch is completely legal, but now Tallahassee's republican leaders are floating the idea of passing a so-called 'sore loser' law.

The recommendation that candidates be required to stay with their party - or their 'no party affiliation' status - for a full year-and-a-half before election day. Otherwise, they'd be disqualified.

Florida State political scientist Carol Weissert points out nationwide, party switching has become a lot more common, and a new law may be justified.

“With the Tea Party and with the whole variety of people running and a lot of volatility in the campaign, this particular race - you know, you could say, 'well, 18 months is a very long time' - the question is going to be whether that's going to be, we're going to see that volatility in other races to come,” she said.

Still, the 'sore loser' crackdown is less about the future than GOP outrage over what's happening now.

“This election is not a choice between simply a Republican and a Democrat and an opportunist,” said Republican U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio.

Whatever it is, it's historic and it may be the last time in Florida history we'll get to see it. Lawmakers could decide to draft a formal bill for next spring's legislative session.


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