Charlie Christ veto of SB6 signals bolt from GOP in Senate race

Florida Governor Charlie Christ

Republican Florida Governor Charlie Christ's veto of controversial education bill SB6 is fanning speculation that he will run for the Senate as an independent. Flickr photo.

Charlie Christ, Florida’s embattled Republican Governor running for the Senate, vetoed controversial, Jeb Bush-backed, Republican-supported education bill SB6, even though he is trailing in the polls to hard-right conservative Marco Rubio. Christ’s SB6 veto further fans the flames of speculation that he will run for the Senate as an independent. Christ is more popular among Florida’s moderate general electorate than among its true-believing Republican primary voters. It seems logical to bolt the party, run as an independent and follow the money now, but Christ’s camp continues to say that won’t happen.

Charlie Christ SB6 veto draws GOP ire

What Charlie Christ decided on SB6, the controversial education reform bill, has been characterized as a signal as to whether he will indeed choose to run as an independent. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) seems to think he will, and he warned Christ that the National Republican Senatorial Committee would work to defeat him if he abandoned the Republican label.

Charlie Christ SB6 veto: more reactions

Charlie Christ ultimately sided with many Florida teachers and school boards adamantly opposing SB6, including Miami-Dade’s. About 25 percent of the county’s teachers called in sick Monday to protest the bill. How many of them get out their credit card to support Christ because of his SB6 veto remains to be seen. But the moment Charlie Christ’s SB6 veto, reaction poured in from both sides of the issue as reported by

Sen. John Thrasher, R-Jacksonville, the chief sponsor of the legislation, said, “It goes without saying that I am disappointed this legislation has been vetoed by Gov. Christ, and I continue to think that one day it will be fully implemented in our state.”

House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, R-Delray Beach, said, “I’m disappointed that after sending his top policy staffer to the House Committee to testify in support of the proposal, Gov. Christ would change his mind and now veto the bill.”

U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, the leading Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate election in November, said, “Today’s veto is a testament to the power of democracy to bring public pressure on Tallahassee politicians.”

Charlie Christ losing GOP primary voters

Cornyn’s bluster is a sharp turnaround for the NRSC, which tried to welcome Christ into the fold last year, promising fast cash. Since then, hard-right Tea Party darling Florida Speaker Marco Rubio has emerged as a formidable challenger. Christ trails Rubio badly in the polls, down by double digits as Rubio’s campaign rakes in the dough. His SB6 veto, which struck down teacher tenure legislation that would link pay to student performance, is expected to intensify that trend. Even though he continues to deny that he will, running as an independent appears to be a matter of political life or death for Charlie Christ.