Confrontational Speaker

Charlie Crist, the governor of Florida, enjoys an approval rating around 60 percent. Marco Rubio, the speaker of the Florida House and a fellow Republican, is apparently part of the other 40.
by | December 10, 2007

 Charlie Crist, the governor of Florida, enjoys an approval rating around 60 percent. Marco Rubio, the speaker of the Florida House and a fellow Republican, is apparently part of the other 40.

Rubio is leading a suit against Crist, seeking to invalidate a deal the governor signed with an Indian tribe to allow expanded gambling. Rubio claims that the agreement required the legislature's approval.

But Rubio isn't merely defending legislative prerogatives. He's also clashing with the governor on global warming policy and property tax cuts.

Crist is leading the campaign for a constitutional amendment to cut property taxes, which voters will approve or reject on January 29. The cuts envisioned in Crist's amendment are large enough that some local government officials have fretted that will undermine the ability of localities to provide basic services.

Rubio, though, says Crist's plan "falls short of what we so desperately need." He is campaigning for his own constitutional amendment to cut property taxes even further. That amendment might be on the ballot in November.

It's tempting to attribute Rubio's confrontational style to term limits. After 2008, his two years as speaker will be up. In other words, he has to make a name for himself quickly, if he wants to have a political future.

Then again, Georgia and Illinois both have governors and speakers of the same party. Neither has term limits. And, in both, the feuds have been just as fierce.

So perhaps the cause of the clash is ideological (Rubio is more conservative than Crist) or generational (Rubio is much younger). But, even if term limits are a contributing factor, I'm betting Crist will be thankful for them when he gets a new speaker in 12 short (or long) months.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

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