Flori-duh! That is the nickname my state earned during the election fiasco in 2000. Democrats in some of the southern counties could not figure out how to work the butterfly ballots. So instead of voting for Al Gore, they ended up accidentally voting for Pat Buchannan and other candidates (like Ralph Nader), thus invalidating their vote. In my opinion, Buchannan would have been a better choice, but who can understand Democrats? After all, it would be hard not to vote for someone so dedicated to “saving the environment”. And, hey, he invented the Internet! That highly contentious election also gave us the terms “hanging chad,” “dimpled chad,” and even “pregnant chad,” and contributed to much merriment on the late night shows, mostly at the expense of Florida. But “Flori-duh” stuck, and I still see it in articles with comments about dumb things that happen here in the Sunshine State.
But are Floridians really so dumb? I certainly didn’t think so. After all, we continue to have no state income tax, which in my opinion, is a good thing economically. We trust law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons after jumping through a few hoops. We also had the good sense to elect a successful businessman as our governor, unlike the national electorate who chose to reject a successful businessman and continue with a community organizer as president. And here we are, two years into Governor Scott’s term and Florida’s economy has done a major turnaround. As TownHall’s Ken Blackwell points out, “The state that was exhibit A for economic disaster two years ago is now experiencing a tremendous rebound thanks to Gov. Rick Scott’s pro-growth policies.”
Our unemployment rate is down, some unnecessary regulations have been eliminated, personal income is up, the government workforce has been reduced while the number of private sector jobs has increased, property and business taxes are down, and the tourism industry has set records for the last two years. Even our educational system has improved, if the latest rankings can be believed. Not only that, we are even discussing giving raises to teachers, something that is long overdue.
So Floridians are happy, right? Governor Scott is doing what he said he would and Florida’s economy is improving.
Unfortunately, Floridians are not happy. According to a recent poll by Public Policy Polling (a Democratic firm, by the way), Governor Scott would lose, 53 – 39 percent, if he were to run against the now Democrat Charlie Crist today. He also would have trouble winning against 2010 opponent Alex Sink , former Tampa mayor Pam Iorio, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Are you kidding me?).
A December Quinnipiac University poll found that “Florida voters disapprove 45 – 36 percent of the job Governor Scott is doing, continuing his almost two-year run of negative scores…” In contrast, the same poll cites Charlie Crist’s favorability rating as 47 – 33 percent among all voters.
How does this make any sense? Even in my own personal experience over the last two years, I have heard very little good being said about Rick Scott outside of GOP meetings and rallies. The press is certainly not his friend and most people I know, even Republicans, are not fond of him. It puzzles me. I have watched this man for the last two years do exactly what he said he would and Florida is prospering. Unfortunately, the way things look now, Floridians are on track to fire Governor Scott in 2014, and quite possibly replace him with Republican turned Independent turned Democrat Charlie Crist. If Florida’s economy continues to pick up in spite of what is happening in Washington and in the rest of the country, and Floridians boot Governor Scott out in favor of Charlie Crist, a known entity, then I will have to say that Florida has earned its insulting nickname. I will be the first to say, let’s change the signs on the interstates, “Welcome to Flori-duh!”