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Crist exhorts Republican faithful

Republicans, gathered at the annual Lincoln Day Dinner, feast on steaks and Charlie Crist's speech at Andre's of Citrus Hills.


© St. Petersburg Times, published February 17, 2001

CITRUS HILLS -- Citrus County Republicans were in a celebratory mood Thursday night, and why not? The GOP controls the White House, Congress, the Governor's Mansion and the state Legislature -- not to mention the County Commission, School Board and most constitutional offices.

"I dare say we have it all, thanks to you," Education Commissioner Charlie Crist told the Republicans, who were gathered at the annual Lincoln Day Dinner.

But happiness shouldn't lead to complacency. "It's not a time to stop, and it's not a time to rest," said Crist, the dinner's keynote speaker.

The GOP faithful packed the Hampton Room at Andre's of Citrus Hills, dining on steak, fish and chicken. Crist said they needed to remain hungry, since the recent presidential election proved that every vote is crucial, as are all efforts to get out the vote.

Crist and Weston Stow, chairman of the Republican Executive Committee, encouraged campaign workers, volunteers and candidates themselves to continue their hard work and prepare for the 2002 election season.

Crist, who took office just a month ago, spoke briefly. He repeated themes from the campaign trail: school accountability, appropriate student testing and safety.

He recently saw to it that a South Florida teacher who was accused of sexual impropriety with students in two school districts will lose his teaching certificate.

In that case, a Broward County man was accused of offering money to a student for sex. The teacher had been accused of improper conduct with a student in 1991, when he worked in Miami-Dade County.

For some reason, Miami-Dade didn't report the teacher's alleged misconduct after criminal charges were dropped. Such notification is required, although there are no penalties for failing to do so.

The case prompted Crist to propose legislation that would allow the state to withhold some school funding from such districts.

Also rallying the troops Thursday night were House Majority Leader Mike Fasano, who went out of his way to publicly support state Rep. Nancy Argenziano, who also was in attendance. Argenziano, who received one of the biggest crowd cheers when she was introduced, has taken considerable heat in recent weeks for her refusal to support the nursing home industry's position on tort reform.

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