Enviros say they’ll miss Crist as he announces Senate bid

Some environmentalists say they’ll miss Charlie Crist, dubbed by some as Florida’s “green governor” who he announced today he’ll run for the U.S. Senate.

Environmentalists liked Crist’s environmental credentials when he ran for governor in 2006. But he won their loyalty in 2007 when he signed executive orders calling reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and he provided stronger state planning leadership at the Florida Department of Community Affairs.

“My initial reaction is we’re sure going to miss his leadership as governor,” said Jerry Karnas, “But he certainly has the potential to bring a very positive environmental world view to the United States Senate.”

Crist also has been a supporter of the Florida Forever land-buying program supported by environmental groups. Although Crist last year opened the door for the debate on offshore drilling, he raised concerns this year when the Republican House leadership pushed through a bill this year to allow drilling in Florida waters. The bill died in the Senate.

Industry lobbyist Wade Hopping said Crist is a moderate Republican who is both pro-environment and pro-business. He said Democrats and Republicans will be scrambling to replace him, creating more openings on the Florida Cabinet.

Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson and Attorney General Bill McCollum are possible GOP candidates for governor. On the Democratic side, state CFO Alex Sink is a possible candidate along with announced candidates state Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, and U. S. Rep. Kendrick Kendrick Meek.

“Talk about musical chairs — we are going to have one of the greatest musical chairs game in Florida,” Hopping said. “Everybody is going to be moving somewhere and somebody is not goign to have a seat.”

Florida Wildlife Federation President Manley Fuller emphasized that Crist will remain governor through the 2010 legislative session. His group awarded the governor earlier this year for his leadership on environmental issues

“He has been a good friend on a number of our issues,” Fuller said. “And he will be the governor for the next year and half.”