Leading candidates in Florida's Senate race remain vague on the environment
From buzzwords to no words at all, there's a little bit of everything when it comes to energy policy in the Sunshine State's Senate primary.
Mon, Aug 23, 2010 at 03:20 PM
STAYING OUT OF IT: Because he's running as an independent, Charlie Crist doesn't have to worry about a primary challenge. (Photo: Chris O'Meara/AP)
Just because you have a plan doesn’t necessarily mean you're the man for Florida’s U.S. Senate seat. Just for fun — yes this is fun for me — I started poking around each Senate candidate’s website to explore their thoughts on energy and the environment. I found that specifics in energy plans don’t correlate to high poll numbers.
Let’s start with the three candidates most likely to end up in the general election after the primary election. On the Democratic side Rep. Kendrick Meek looks to be in the driver’s seat with a 10 point lead in the polls. Meek cites the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changes “unequivocal” findings on global warming as justification for taking action to “do all we can to stem this tide.” Meek’s site offers no specifics about cap-and-trade, but he does favor a moratorium on offshore drilling and increased funding for alternative energy. These positions are quite similar to Gov. Charlie Crist’s.
Crist’s website has links to both his energy platform and an environmental platform. On energy, Crist supports a ban on the issuance of offshore oil leases. His site makes no specific claims about supporting cap-and-trade, but it does offer several general statements about lowering electric and oil bills by promoting renewable policies. On the environment, Crist wants to push for more federal funds to continue restoring Everglades National Park under the 2000 Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. Crist is not running in the primary as he left the Republican Party to run as an independent candidate after it looked as though he would lose a primary election to Marco Rubio.
With Crist out of the party, Rubio is the favorite to get the nod for the general election. Unlike Crist, Rubio has little on his website about energy and environmental policy. Rubio’s thoughts on the subject are understandably focused on Gulf Coast recovery. While he doesn’t get too specific on policy matters, Rubio is on the record opposing cap-and-trade legislation in the wake of the Gulf oil disaster. Rubio’s vague policy positions on the environment actually make him the most specific candidate running in the Republican primary.
As for the other Republicans, let’s start with Billy Kogut. Kogut’s website includes seven policy platforms. None of the seven positions mentions energy or the environment. I did find a link to the Florida Catholic Conference’s candidate questionnaire, in which Kogut said he did support alternative energy funding. So there’s something.
Perhaps the most interesting candidate in the Republican primary is a fellow by the name of William Escoffery III. Escoffery is a Jamaican-born citizen who touts his own six-year process to becoming a citizen as the ideal model for legal immigration. On his site he says “I am going to make sure everyone does it may way [I assume he means “my” way], that is, crosses our border legally.” Escoffery’s website contains a number of his platform positions including a bible page, a pro-gun page, and a revolution page that contains the biographies of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Anyway, this post is supposed to be about energy and the environment so it’s worth mentioning that I did click on the “other issues” page where I found links titled to “energy policy" and “green-wise.” Neither of these links contains anything. Literally, they are just empty blue pages. Maybe Team Escoffery is just waiting for the general election to tackle the energy and environmental issues?
As for the other Democrats, they offer varying degrees of specificity on energy and environmental issues. When you go to Glenn Burkett’s website, a pop-up will appear touting that the nutritional guru is a Sierra Club member who favors complete energy independence. He wants to make Florida the leader of solar energy production. When you click on Burkett’s policy positions you will find he is anti-nuclear power, and even advocates for more energy-efficient appliances. Burkett is also jacked —I mean check out this picture of him in the yellow sleeveless shirt. He is also a dead ringer for Leo from "West Wing."
Democrat Jeff Greene’s website has a substantial amount of space devoted to energy and environmental policy. Greene claims he will fight to make Florida the leader in renewable energy if he is elected to the Senate. He opposes increased offshore drilling, and favors nuclear production. Greene also comes close to talking about cap-and-trade. On his website the Florida businessman says, “We need to be aware of the impact that an increase in energy prices could have on Americans who are already suffering in this recession. Thus, any plan adopted by the Senate will need to rebate money raised to the taxpayers in the form of direct rebates or tax cuts.” Greene is also in favor a rebate system for citizens to retrofit their homes to become more energy-efficient.
The last candidate in this roundup, Maurice Ferre, has, by far, the most comprehensive plan on energy and environmental issues. Ferre clearly states that he favors the now-defunct plan for capping emissions offered by Sens. John Kerry and Joe Lieberman. Ferre calls for an “extreme makeover” for the nation’s power grid. He offers a pathway for developing liquefied natural gas power, solar power, wind power and biodiesel fuels. He also calls for the development of micro-nuclear technology. Ferre’s specifics on energy don’t seem to be resonating with voters, however, as the latest Quinnipiac University poll shows he has about 3 percent of voters committed. But, that same poll says 28 percent of voters are undecided. So there’s at least a chance. Perhaps if he were to be a bit more vague he would do better.
Photo of Glenn Burkett: Glennburkett.com