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Reform Party Candidate Max Linn Enlivens (And Muddies) Florida Governor’s Race

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Last Monday, after garnering an eleventh-hour ruling from 17th Judicial Circuit Judge Leroy Moe, multimillionaire Reform Party candidate Max Linn, 47, a former Republican, startled Republican Charlie Crist and Democrat Jim Davis at Monday’s final Florida gubernatorial debate in Tampa simply by showing up.

Not one to avoid the spotlight, Linn also startled Central Florida motorists two weeks ago, when he made an emergency landing in his light plane on an Interstate near Orlando, while on the campaign trail.

Though a political outsider and not widely known among Florida voters, Linn is not new to Florida politics, having run unsuccessfully for the state Senate in 1990. He was also instrumental in helping to make Florida’s term limit law a reality.

The debate, moderated by Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s Hardball, was considerably enlivened by Linn’s surprise appearance, and may have seriously damaged Republican Crist’s campaign as Linn and Democrat Davis joined forces to attack Crist.

Because of Matthews’ presence as moderator, the debate was televised nationally on MSNBC, and Matthews conducted it as if he were hosting Hardball; asking direct, blunt, and insistent questions of the candidates, rather than taking the traditional moderator’s neutral stance. The normally unflappable Crist was visibly shaken by Matthews’ questions and Linn’s attacks, forcing him into a defensive posture, a situation unfamiliar to him as the frontrunner in the race.

As the Reform Party candidate, Linn presents an interesting and complex political ideology to the voters of Florida. He has chosen the conservative mayor of Avon Park, Tom Macklin, known for his crackdown on illegal immigrants in that rural central Florida town, as his running mate. One of his objectives as governor, Linn has said, is to make English Florida’s official language; a position that will not be popular with South Florida’s majority Latino population.

Yet, Linn supports embryonic stem cell research, is against restricting abortion, and is opposed to the death penalty. He has also plunged headlong into a major Florida controversy by announcing his opposition to the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, the FCAT, brainchild of Republican Governor Jeb Bush. Linn characterizes education as his "number one priority."

Linn has also focused on insurance reform as a major plank in his platform. This issue is in the forefront of voters’ concerns in this election, and Linn’s ideas for reform set him apart from the Republican and Democratic candidates. Perhaps his most controversial stance on the issue is his insistence that the Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, which is owned by the state, should not be insuring high dollar waterfront properties at taxpayers’ expense. The controversy lies in the fact that Citizens is often the only source for coverage for these properties. Because of record losses from hurricane damage, private insurance companies have been reducing their exposure in Florida for several years, leaving many homeowners with no other option but Citizens.

Pollsters are divided in their assessments of Linn’s impact on the race. John Zogby thinks he will help Davis by taking two or more points (Crist’s current lead margin) from Crist. On the other hand, Brad Coker of the Mason-Dixon Poll says Linn’s votes will come from Davis supporters, primarily from among those fed up with the status quo, while Fort Lauderdale pollster Jim Kane believes Linn will take votes from both major candidates.

I find Max Linn’s political ideas to be very reminiscent of much of the Libertarian platform; he is an interesting mix of Conservative and Liberal viewpoints, and I think he will actually take votes from both candidates, resulting in what may possibly be the strongest third party campaign in Florida thus far. Orlando pollster Jim Kitchens has predicted Linn will win between 5 and 10 percent of the vote.

Florida is never dull politically, and whatever the result of his impact on this election, Max Linn has ensured the tradition will continue.

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About Clavos

Raised in Mexico by American parents, Clavos is proudly bi-cultural, and considers both Spanish and English as his native languages. A lifelong boating enthusiast, Clavos lives aboard his ancient trawler, Second Act, in Coconut Grove, Florida and enjoys cruising the Bahamas and Florida Keys from that base. When not dealing with the never-ending maintenance issues inherent in ancient trawlers, Clavos sells yachts to finance his boat habit, but his real love (after boating, of course) is writing and editing; a craft he has practiced at Blogcritics since 2006.
  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    “Clavos says he’s fluent in Spanish”

    Que bueno!

    “and can annoy waiters and cabdrivers in Portuguese”

    Sim? Bom!

    “Italian”

    Affanculo!

    “and French”

    Fromage!

    ;-P

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    That being said, let’s hope Crist wins this thing. Linn has no hope of actually winning (even though he is arguably the best candidate), and Davis would be an absolute nightmare (at least in my opinion).

  • Clavos

    RJ,

    ¡Gracias!

    Obrigado!

    Grazie!

    Merci, M’sieu!

    I agree; Linn would make the best governor of the three, but, as you say, he won’t even come close to winning — unless there are snowdrifts on the Beeline come Tuesday morning.

    There’s something about both Davis, and to a lesser extent, Crist, that just gives me an uneasy feeling.

    That said, of the two I prefer Crist. However, he’s by no means the shoo-in he was just two or three weeks ago.

    A lot will depend on both turnout and which way the swing voters go, which could put Linn in the position of spoiler for Crist.

  • MCH

    Clavvy,

    You forgot the “a” in “enthusiasts.”

    Signed,
    Your friendly, neighborhood REMF.

  • Clavos

    Thanks for reading and proofreading, emmy.

    Sharp eye!

    Would you believe I left it out to see who’d pick up on it?

    Naah, neither would I…

  • Clavos

    This morning’s Miami Herald quotes pollster John Zogby as saying his latest poll indicates Republican Crist is ahead of Democrat Davis 48% to 38%, with Reform candidate Linn clocking in at 3%, and 10% of the voters still undecided.

  • MCH

    Well, it caught my eye only because my wife and I do several different things (not necessarily boating) at which we are also avid enthusiasts. Although water skiing has been one of my lifelong favorite sports.

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    “Clavos has finally found his niche as a self-employed used boat salesman”

    Clavos is Donnie Baker?

    (I swerr to God he is.)

  • Clavos

    MCH,

    Used to do a lot of water skiing myself, but don’t have the right kind of boat for that anymore.

    Used to do a lot of SCUBA diving, too.

    Sigh…

  • Clavos

    Suss,

    I swear to God I’m not…

    BUT…wanna buy a boat??

  • Spudman

    Clavos,
    You need a little work on your French spelling and I am a better used boat salesman than you.

    Great article. Without question Davis is better than Crist but Lin would be excellent if he could garner enough votes to win. We both know that won’t happen.
    Spudman

  • Clavos

    SpudDude sez,

    You need a little work on your French spelling and I am a better used boat salesman than you.

    Mais non, M’sieu!

    And nobody’s a better used boat salesman than I!

    Remember to vote; early and often…

    Clavos

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    Why don’t ya say it to my face?

  • Clavos

    I will. I have to.

    It’s a state law. Look it up.

    I gotta go.

  • Clavos

    OK, Suss,

    That said, it’s truth time — I’m looking all this up on Wikipedia; I never heard of Donnie Baker until your post. As far as I know, he’s not on the air here in South Florida.

    Just looked it up; the closest station is in W. Palm Beach, but it carried on the ‘net — I’ll check it out…

  • Donnie Marler

    Donnie Baker! “I swear to God, man!” lol. Bob&Tom Show. Classic stuff, and he had a boat for sale!!

  • http://counter-point.blogspot.com Scott

    After watching Crist’s horrible performance in the debates, I voted for Davis (I voted early, very convenient). Both would probably be equally bad. I have no doubt Crist will win it, but I’m betting it will be closer than many people think and that the polls are showing.

    Plus, Crist freaks me out. He’s too tan.

  • Clavos

    Scott,

    I have no doubt Crist will win it, but I’m betting it will be closer than many people think and that the polls are showing.

    Last I heard the margin was about 10% in favor of Crist, but I agree with you; I always take the polls (especially exit polls) with a huge grain of salt — they’ve been wrong too often in the past, and I do think it will be tighter than 10%.

    I’m very interested in seeing how Linn does. As others have said, he really does appear to be the best candidate of the three.

    Early voting or absentee is definitely the way to go this year. I have a feeling the polling places are going to be chaotic as both voters and pollworkers try to cope with the machines.

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