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COLUMN

Happytown

The one where Republicans try to pin the tail on Charlie Crist's donkey, the city bluntly reaffirms that it is indeed an cruel (fat!) mistress and the county is a joke that isn't funny anymore.

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Yawn! We've become accustomed to the slow-news-day shuffle here at Happytown™ HQ - our frayed, droopy drawers hanging as we shamble past the political rumors, occasionally glancing at this "spiteful bitch" or that "world-class city" piling up in our inboxes or on our Facebook feeds - but it's a rare Friday indeed when we happen upon something as pointed and planted as the connect-the-dots reasoning behind the June 3 Sunshine State News puff piece that declared, in headline form, that the "Democratic Party Door Opens for Charlie Crist." Zoinks!

Our internal dialogue went something like this: "Impossible! No, wait, hilarious! Hmm, maybe a little sad?" Then, naturally, we attempted to come up with whatever metaphoric justification we could for said sad switcheroo. Could it be some Disney-fied Imagineering that could turn frogs into princes? Or could it be that Orlando is half Superman phone booth and half bathhouse changing room? (Remember those "Charlie is gay" rumors? Yeah, us neither.) This is, after all, the place where magic happens - bad magic.

"Florida Democrats need new blood," the article declared. "Charlie Crist is ready with a transfusion."

Now, don't get us wrong. We were well aware of the potential for a scandal meme when Charlie climbed aboard Democratic fundraising attorney John "For the People" Morgan's ambulance-chasing ship back in January, and even a little more suspicious when Crist's mug started showing up on our morning news, offering us assistance with our fender benders. Even if the two have been longtime friends, and Morgan doesn't discriminate when it comes to his drinking buddies (hello, hot Republican drunk uncle Lee Constantine!), it did smell a bit like a setup for something, but it also could have just been the scent of post-political desperation. We weren't sure enough to really care.

But the Sunshine State News cares, and thinly disguised its Chamber of Commerce-fed glee with professional commentary from "veteran political operative" and shady Republican reptile Roger Stone. But why now? Maybe because Gov. Rick Scott boasts the lowest approval rating in the country and the Republicans wanted to pull Crist back out of the "I'm independent now!" turncoat woods for a little go-round with an easy political piñata? Regardless, the liberals we reached out to didn't find the transparent maneuvering too appealing.

"We are not a subsidiary of Morgan and Morgan," says Doug Head, former Orange County Democratic Executive Committee chair. But it's funny, right? "Funny like a toothache." He isn't laughing.

State Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando, wasn't terribly surprised by either the message or its mode of delivery (the Sunshine State News is hardly "news"), even allowing that there are some "strong rumors" that Morgan may be prepping Crist for another go at the governorship in 2014. However, Randolph says, this particular stunt is little more than a Republican attempt to "take attention off of Rick Scott's horrendous poll numbers" and "remind Democrats that we really don't have anyone who can beat Rick Scott." Ha.

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