(CNN) – Florida Gov. Charlie Crist Thursday vetoed an education bill favored by state Republican lawmakers and grassroots conservatives.
The legislation, considered one of the most far reaching in the country, would have made the process of firing Florida teachers easier. Teachers and many parents opposed the bill, which would have linked educators pay to student test scores.
Some political watchers say that Crist's veto may be a signal that the governor is positioning himself as a centrist and giving up his bid against Marco Rubio for the Republican Senate nomination.
A Quinnipiac University poll indicates that Rubio, the former state house speaker and a darling with conservative activists, leads Crist by 23 points among Republican primary voters. But the survey of Florida voters, released Thursday, also indicates that Crist, if he chose to run as an independent, would hold a narrow edge in a three-way contest with Rubio and Rep. Kendrick Meek, the Democratic candidate in the race.
Sen. George LeMieux of Florida, who was appointed to his seat last year by Crist, urged the governor to sign the education bill. But LeMieux told reporters Thursday that he did not think Crist's future in the GOP is tied to his decision on the legislation.
"I don't think that him running as a Republican and what he does on the education bill are linked," he said.
Crist's standing among many Republicans was hurt by his support last year of President Obama's economic stimulus plan. Crist says his support for that measure was the right thing to do to help Florida through rough economic times.
Crist has until the end of the month to declare if he'll remain in the GOP primary or run as an independent.
"The governor is proud of his conservative credentials and stands firmly behind the principles of limited government and more personal freedom, the bedrock values of the Republican Party," Crist campaign manager Eric Eikenberg said in a statement last week.
But in the past few days, the Crist campaign has avoided questions about a possible independent bid, sparking a new round of speculation.
Asked Wednesday in an interview with the Tampa Tribune if he's considering running as an independent, Crist said "I'm not."
"Like reformers across Florida, Marco supports better pay for good teachers, as this bill would have done," Rubio Press Secretary Alex Burgos told CNN. "Once again Charlie Crist has broken his word and put his political interests ahead of doing what's best for Florida's children."
Meanwhile, Sen. John Cornyn warned Crist Thursday not to run as an independent.
"I think that would be the end of his political career as a Republican," Cornyn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told Politico. "I think he's got other potential and aspirations, so I think from that standpoint, it would be a bad decision."
Last year, Cornyn actively worked to recruit Crist to make a bid for the Senate rather than run for re-election as governor. Asked if the NRSC would work to defeat Crist if he runs as an independent, Cornyn told Politico that "our job is to elect Republicans so that's what we'll do – and I don't care who it is."
(Updated at 3:15 p.m. ET with additional information)
2010: Moderate republicans need not apply. Just switch to the democrats, like Arlen Specter, and take it like a man.
I hope he runs as an Independent. He has nothing else to loose.
I hope he runs as an independent and then wins the election. It's time to show these fringe conseravtive they don't have the clout they think they do. By the way- I'm a Democrat and still want ot see hime win to shut them up!
I would say check his campaign donations – there is probably a little something coming in from the teachers unions.
Good for him! i hope he will run as an independent ! The way the party of NO treated this guy was unfair. Just because he hug the President of United States , The party of NO said he wasn't good enough for them! Go Crist! I am rooting for you!
Thank you, Governor Christ for vetoing this bill - it will prevent teachers from teaching for test scores and allow them to focus on education. A lot of damage has been done this year to Florida's education system with budget cuts and this move restores a little hope.
Someone needs to bring a level of sanity to the republican party. Christ will take his lumps, but he's doing the right thing.
Governor Crist, I'm a democrate in the state of Florida, and for what you did by vetoing that bill make me proud to say you are a governor of all the people in florida. "Bravo-Zulu" ps I'm not going to vote for you in the up coming senators election, but I do admire your courage.
leave this racists party governer. come across.
I think the Tea Party movement is fly by night. There was so much weight put on Brown in Mass. but that didn't last very long.
When there is blood in the water, sharks will attack and kill other sharks. Well, those who preach evolution must be studying the Tea Party and the GOP, because this is the stuff that Pulitzers are awarded for: "Republicans attacking Republicans", all to see who can get those million dollar campaign donations from Healthcare Insurance, Automotive, Banking, and Highway Construction Companies. Screw the teachers, they do not have enough money to support themselves, let alone a politician.
Cozying up to unions isn't a "centrist" position, it's a Left position. Crist must be getting desperate.
Cmon Charlie..come thru as an independent. Rubio does not share my values. I need a centrist candidate to vote for.
What are "conservative credentials?" For that matter what are "Liberal Credentials?" We hear these terms so much it gives me a headache. If we live in never never land then I suppose they mean something but in the real world they are buzz words that mean notheing. Actually, I take that back. They mean or are used by people who have no idea what the facts are & need to superimpose a static structure on problems that are as fluid as water. Perhaps a balanced budget is a Conservative Value. However when it was done during the Great Depression it plunged the US into a steep plunge that did not end until WWII, If budget deficit is a Liberal Value it may help during bad times but if not payed up during good times it ballons into a debit crisis. So. If you thik, get rid of the ridged trash. If you think, look at the facts & historical evidence & act.
The problem with tying teacher pay to student test scores is that it wouldn't work. Student achievements are based on not just the current teacher, but previous teachers as well. Should we punish an otherwise excellent high school teacher because she couldn't bring up the test scores of students screwed up a year earlier by a terrible middle school teacher at another school? Sure we should reward good teaching, but doing it this way would be downright counter-productive. It would just scare away otherwise excellent teachers from the very school districts where they are most needed.
Crist is a common sense governor and does what is best for the People of Florida. I am a staunch Democrat but Crist is one Republican who is honest and works within both Parties to get issues solved. He doesn't play games, doesn't lie, doesn't obstruct, or use hate speech. Crist is a decent man who cares about helping Florida residents, helping America recover, and not about seeing how nasty, contrary, and anti-Obama he can be to the detriment of the People
I can't believe Florida residents cannot see what a dishonorable liar Rubio is. He is not for anything. He, like all other Republicans, is against everything because he does not know the issues, have any solutions, or can talk intelligently on how to help People recover. Rubio is just another hate spewing, lying, do-nothing Republican.
I am sick to death of Republican anti-American stance on everything and I would think most decent Americans would be worn out on their old negativity, lies, hate, violence-inducing behavior, and support of the racist tea bagger lunatics who cannot articulate one detail of what they are so hysterical and irrational about.
Republicans have done NOTHING all year and now have reached a level of dangerous domestic terrorism in their rants and lies. It's disgusting and treasonous.
Keep fighting Crist – maybe someone will wake up and see you are the one DOING sensible things to help Florida move forward.
i hope crist run as a independent.rubio wil b another martha coakley and 2 meeks
I am a florida republican and if rubio is the nominee, I will vote democrat. This guy has been and is still corrupt.
Rubio is nothing, but another teabager! This democrat would be proud to vote to a moderate Crist.
The only way a Republican with a brain can get elected in this environment is to run as an Independent.
Go for it Charlie. You want to be a senator? That's your ticket.
Crist is and always has been a closet Democrat.
I'm not a republican, but I have to salute Crist for this Veto.
Good for you Crist! The unions are a problem, but that wasn't the way to solve it.
A big blow to children and their education and a big win for lazy union teachers who need the security provided by unions instead of the security provided by doing a good job.
Crist has shown that the "man hug" is for real and that he wants to have Obama's love child.
Lazy, lazy, lazy.
Finally some leadership from Crist