Charlie Crist
Charles Joseph "Charlie" Crist Jr. (pronounced /ˈkrɪst/; born July 24, 1956) is an American politician who was the 44th Governor of Florida. Prior to his election as governor, Crist previously served as Florida State Senator, Education Commissioner, and Attorney General. He was elected governor in 2006 with 52.4 percent of the vote (against opponent Jim Davis), and took office the following year.

Crist's term as governor ended in January 2011. Crist announced on May 12, 2009 that he would run instead for the United States Senate seat being vacated by then-fellow Republican Mel Martinez. He later decided to run as not affiliated with any party in the general election, but lost to Republican Marco Rubio in the general election.

Early life and education
Crist was born in Altoona, Pennsylvania on July 24, 1956, to Charles Joseph Crist, Sr., an American physician of Greek Cypriot descent, and Nancy (née Lee), of Scots-Irish American descent. His family name is adapted from the original Greek name "Christodoulou". Crist moved to St. Petersburg, Florida, as a child, where he attended Riviera Middle School and graduated from St. Petersburg High School in 1974. He is the second of four children and has three sisters: Margaret Crist Wood, Elizabeth Crist Hyden, and Catherine Crist Kennedy. He attended Wake Forest University for two years, where he played quarterback for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons football team. Crist earned his undergraduate degree from Florida State University where he was elected Vice President of the student body and became a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. He received his law degree from the Cumberland School of Law in Alabama.

Law career
After graduating from law school in 1981, and having passed the bar on his third attempt, Crist was hired as general counsel to Minor league baseball, which was headquartered in St. Petersburg. Drawn to politics, Crist was a candidate for public office for the first time in 1986, as a Republican, in the primary race for a state Senate seat in Pinellas County. After losing in a runoff, Crist joined his brother-in-law in private practice in St. Petersburg, but soon returned to politics as an aide in the successful 1988 United States Senate campaign of Connie Mack III, whom he has since described as his political mentor.

Florida Senate
He was elected to the Florida Senate in 1992, representing parts of St. Petersburg. He established a reputation as a law-and-order senator, sponsoring legislation requiring inmates to serve at least 85% of their sentences before becoming eligible for parole. He supported teacher salary increases, co-sponsored laws that created charter schools, and created a vanity license plate sold to raise funds for Everglades conservation. As chairman of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee, Crist pursued an investigation into actions of then-governor Lawton Chiles amid allegations that Chiles' campaign had made "scare calls" to senior citizens days before the 1994 gubernatorial election. Chiles eventually testified before Crist and the committee and admitted that his campaign had made the calls.

Florida Governor
Crist has received criticism for his fiscal approach, for his support of President Barack Obama's fiscal policies, and for his official schedule.

Crist supported capital punishment and gun rights. In 2008 he signed a provision that prevents employers from prohibiting employees' bringing firearms to the workplace, as long as the weapons are secure and individuals maintain a concealed carry license.

His position on abortion issues is not clear-cut. In 1998 Crist ran for Senate as a pro-choice candidate, and has stated that he opposes overturning Roe vs. Wade. Crist has said that he opposes a mandatory 24-hour waiting period before a woman can undergo an abortion. In the 2010 Senate campaign, Crist first presented himself a pro-life Republican but after he lost the Republican nomination and became an unaffiliated candidate, had all pro-life statements removed from his website. On June 11, 2010 Crist vetoed a bill which would have removed taxpayer funding for abortion, as well as require a woman to have an ultrasound before having an abortion.

Crist supported efforts to ban same-sex marriage in Florida, and supported the current ban on adoption by homosexual prospective parents – saying that a "traditional family provides the best environment for children." His position led gay rights groups to protest the passage of the Florida Amendment 2 (now Article 1 Section 27 of the Florida Constitution) ban on same-sex marriage during his wedding in 2008. He shifted in June 2010, when he stated that he no longer supported Florida's ban on same-sex adoption: "A better way and approach would be to let judges make that decision on a case-by-case basis."

On other issues, Crist differs from other Republicans, particularly on environmental policy, an important issue in Florida. He announced plans to sign executive orders to impose strict air pollution standards in the state, with aims to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent of the 1990 levels, by 2050 . In his gubernatorial campaign, Crist opposed offshore oil drilling. Crist altered that position in June 2008, when oil reached peak prices, saying "I mean, let's face it, the price of gas has gone through the roof, and Florida families are suffering, and my heart bleeds for them."

As an environmental advocate, Crist proposed in June 2008 that the State of Florida buy 187,000 acres (760 km2) of land for conservation. Crist described the deal "as monumental as our nation's first national park." The agreement, which still faces legal and financing challenges, would give the state 73,000 acres (300 km2) of sugar and citrus plantations for Everglades restoration projects.

Crist was the first Republican governor to accept the state's National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) invitation to a convention, and has been described as the state's "first black governor." Crist endorsed legislation requiring paper records of all ballots cast during an election, stemming from criticism that votes were being undercounted in black communities by computerized voting machines. He has also tackled the state's regulation of the insurance industry, particularly for property (in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina) and health insurance. While new property insurance legislation has proved controversial – in particular the creation of the Citizen's Property Insurance Corp and the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund (both of which have been described as risky and underfunded) – the health insurance reform efforts have been well received. Standing next to former football star Dan Marino (whose son, Michael, is autistic and who inspired the Dan Marino Foundation), Crist signed a law expanding health coverage statewide for autism disorders and he has also signed legislation expanding low-income coverage and creating public and private insurance options in the state.

Source: Wikipedia

Luciano Mende

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