First, let me say that – in the interests of full disclosure – I have long supported Charlie Crist’s bid for Governor. My support for Crist is not because I am against Gallagher; instead, I simply prefer Crist’s approach to serving the people of Florida. He seems more genuinely interested in people and more personable.
Second, let me also say that I believe Tom Gallagher of today is not the same person of the late 1970s. He takes full responsibility for his actions, and made the effort to clarify the record. That is admirable. While I am still single, I firmly believe that having a family is such a life-changing event that changes perspectives: it is certainly possible for a pro-choice person to become pro-life after becoming a parent.
However, the revelations that have come to light thanks to Mike Fechter and the Tampa Tribune will have a dramatic impact on his campaign. We can be sure that someone somewhere, like a 527, will use today’s headlines from the Ft. Myer’s News-Press (“Gallagher admits to pot use, infidelity“) or the Orlando Sentinel (“Gallagher admits to affair, marijuana use“).
Remember, the people who were the most aghast by Bill Clinton’s infidelity are the same people the Gallagher campaign has been targeting: the religious right. These voters are swayed by the character issue, and will be hard-pressed to stick with Gallagher when confronted by his admissions.
To be sure, there are also rumors about Crist’s sexuality. He put those rumors to bed in a radio interview last year, affirming that he is a heterosexual. I mention this because these rumors would affect the same voters Gallagher could lose: those who care about fidelity and character. The difference is that Crist denied while Gallagher admitted to actions that could cause voters to question their support.
Both candidates have publicly stated that they will not use negative tactics to win this election. However, there are a number of special interest groups who have a profound interest in this race. You can bet that all of today’s stories will be clipped, copied, and used in direct mail, and television commercials by “independent” groups.
Finally, looking at the big picture of the race, one has to question whether Gallagher can win this race. Crist has the money advantage. Crist started airing TV commercials three weeks ago. Crist has maintained his lead in polls conducted by independent groups. Now Crist has fewer liabilities.
That high pitch sound you hear is Gallagher’s campaign crashing to the ground.