FANGATE: More Inane Florida Shenanigans

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Political debates are known for devolving into the ridiculous, but Florida somehow managed to again outdo the rest of the country when it comes to absurdities in politics. Last night’s gubernatorial debate between incumbent governor Rick Scott and his opponent, former governor and shameless opportunist Charlie Crist, was delayed on account of Crist’s fan and Scott’s objections to it.

No, really.

Because the rules of the debate allowed for no electronics at the podium, Scott took exception to Crist’s small fan and refused to take the stage for nearly four minutes while the debate’s moderators scrambled to explain the situation to viewers. To a rousing chorus of boos from the audience, the moderators said that the fan was preventing the debate from beginning as scheduled. Crist took the opportunity to appear as the “man of the people,” drawing cheers from the crowd and scorn from the moderators.

Scott did eventually take the stage, but his delay has become the talk of social media. In a tight race, a man in Scott’s position can’t afford to make blunders of this magnitude. In the overall scheme of things, it’s a tiny mistake, but you can always count on the media to turn a molehill into a mountain. Everyone remembers Mitt Romney’s infamous binder full of women.

This morning, the Scott campaign was quick to get out in front of the backlash, claiming that the delay had nothing to do with the fan specifically. They issued a press release that said the governor’s failure to get to the podium on time was due to a mix-up. They had been told that Crist was having an emergency meeting with the debate’s organizers about the fan in question. The release ended with a fairly humorous line:

“But Charlie Crist can bring his fan, microwave, and toaster to debates – – none of that will cover up how sad his record as Governor was compared to the success of Governor Rick Scott.”

Nonetheless, this could turn into one of those monumentally silly things that puts Crist in Tallahassee for the second time. And that’s really unfortunate for Florida. Moreover, considering the Sunshine State’s increasing power in national elections – they are now possessed of a whopping 29 electoral votes – it could be bad news for conservatives around the country. Scott leads Crist in the polls, but not by much. It would be a terrible shame if something as stupid as Fangate turned the tide towards Crist.

As in almost all elections, the economy will likely be the number one concern on Florida’s mind when voters go to the polls on November 4th. In that respect, Scott has a clear advantage over the Republican-turned-Independent-turned-Democrat. In Scott’s time in office, the Florida economy has undergone a dramatic turn for the better. If he’s able to convince voters that his tax cuts and de-regulation policies are responsible for the boom, the pro-tax Crist should be left swinging in the wind.

Unfortunately, these idiotic distractions play all too big a role in our nation’s politics. And in Florida, somehow, they are magnified.