Should Democrats Vote for Charlie Crist or Nan Rich Today?

Among Florida progressives, there are mixed feelings about voting for Nan Rich in today's Democratic gubernatorial primary match-up against Charlie Crist.

On one hand, Nan Rich is an authentic progressive and has been her entire political life, including as Senate Minority Leader from 2010-2012. She has earned the progressive vote.

On the other hand, Rich ran an underwhelming campaign, to say the least, and only the size of Crist's victory margin remains in doubt. I say this despite months of doggedly loyal Rich supporters imploring me not to talk about foregone conclusions, at least not publicly. I understand. Reality bites, and it hurts a hell of a lot more when you draw attention to it.

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Nonetheless, Crist will win the primary today. That puts him on collision course with Public Enemy Number One, Rick Scott. And some fear that too many Rich votes could deprive Charlie of some much-needed "Big Win" momentum heading into the general election.

Now, let me note here that although I do political media and consulting, I haven't worked for Rich or Crist in this race. But I do have to have to vote in it. Well I don't have to -- hell that's my American right! Still, I'm going to. And folks are asking, "Nan or Charlie?"

As a seriously progressive Democrat -- so serious that after a frustrating stint as Democratic Party "insider", I walked away hoping to accomplish more as an "outsider" -- I was duly skeptical about Crist being our nominee for governor. But by last week, I'd evolved (like Charlie!) into a willing, active post-primary supporter.

I reached that point after Crist raised the possibility of repealing Florida's regressive "Right To Work" law. It's been 25 years since any major candidate here has dared broach the idea of helping labor unions organize and empower workers.

I know that the politics of pragmatism and expedience prompted Crist's comments. That doesn't mean he's insincere about this or other evolving progressive positions. But it does mean he'll need a groundswell of broad-based public support to turn progressive words into actions.

So I think Nan Rich should get your vote today.

We need to keep promoting the progressive wing of the Florida Democratic Party. The diminutive but lionhearted Rich has done that with integrity and class for a couple years now on the campaign trail.Voting for her is an opportunity to reward that commitment, while making a progressive platform more palatable to Crist.

That's the value of a "Stand With Nan" vote: sending a message that high-impact, progressive Democratic initiatives -- not bland, middle-of-the-road moves -- are the ones Crist would be wise and pragmatic to pursue moving forward.

Daniel Tilson is the proprietor of Full Cup Media in Boca Raton.

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