Florida voters Tuesday buried Republican-turned-Independent Gov. Crist into political oblivion as part of the Tea Party revolution. Crist had refused to stay the execution of a Jewish prisoner, favored gay adoption, supported now-indicted former Republican Party chairman Jim Greer, and promoted the expansion of gambling in the state.
Gov. Crist, who visited Israel this year on a trade mission, touted himself as pro-Israel but did not receive backing from major pro-Israel organizations. He was defeated by Cuban-born Tea Party Republican Marco Rubio.
Crist’s loss relegated him to political oblivion, according to Florida analysts. He rejected advice to keep his safe job as governor and not run for the Senate.
He gained national attention last February when he ignored appeals to stay the execution of Martin Grossman, a Jew who was on death row for 25 years for murder. Gov. Crist ignored 50,000 e-mails on behalf of Grossman and only responded – in the form of an auto-response email – 30 minutes before the execution. He also refused to meet with Jewish and non-Jewish leaders who appealed to save Grossman’s life.
More than 200 organizations, including Young Israel and Chabad, asked Gov. Crist to a 60-day stay of execution in order to allow time for a clemency petition to the courts.
Grossman was a drug-addicted high-school drop-out with a juvenile record for trespassing when he was spotted by a wildlife officer after he drove to an isolated nature reserve to fire a found handgun for fun.
Grossman, who had a history of epilepsy, panicked when the officer ignored his pleas not to report him because he was on probation. After a brief struggle, Martin took the female officer’s gun and killed her. A psychiatrist who evaluated him concluded, from his psychological and medical condition, that he could not have formed the intent to kill.