South Regional Sweet Sixteen Matchup: Paul vs. Crist
#1 seed: Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)
Born: January 7, 1963 (age 50) — Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Background: Born into politics, Randal “Rand” Paul was the middle of Ron Paul’s five children. Like his father, he also made his living in the medical world before his political career, as an ophthalmologist in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Paul’s initial involvement in politics (besides his father’s career) was as an activist. He founded (and chaired) the Kentucky Taxpayers United in 1994, an anti-tax group that lobbied and rated Kentucky state legislators. In 2010, Paul ran for Kentucky’s open Senate seat on a largely Libertarian/tea-party platform and bested two politicians with previous statewide wins, Secretary of State Trey Grayson in the primary, then Attorney General Jack Conway in the general.
Former Party: None.
Strength: Independent political positions. During his short tenure in Congress since 2011, Paul has repeatedly clashed with not only Democrats, but Republicans on his positions over issues ranging from the deficit to his recent high profile March 2013 talking filibuster questioning the Obama administration’s drone policy.
Weakness: He’s “not quite” a Libertarian. From a piece he wrote for USA Today entitled Rand Paul, libertarian? Not Quite: “It’s often repeated in stories about me or my race for U.S. Senate that I am a “libertarian.” In my mind, the word “libertarian” has become an emotionally charged, and often misunderstood, word in our current political climate. But, I would argue very strongly that the vast coalition of Americans — including independents, moderates, Republicans, conservatives and “Tea Party” activists — share many libertarian points of view, as do I.”
#4 seed: Gov. Charlie Crist (D-FL)
Born: July 24, 1956 (age 56) — Altoona, Pennsylvania.
Background: Prior to entering politics, Crist was an attorney and aide to legendary Florida Senator Connie Mack III. He was elected to the Florida State Senate in 1992, the position of Florida Education Commissioner in 2000, and won the race for Attorney General in 2002. Crist then became Florida’s 44th Governor, serving from 2006 to 2010.
Former Party: Republican (Before 2010). Independent (2010-2012).
Strength: Centrism. During his term as Florida Governor, Crist differed from many of his Republican colleagues for his noted support of environmental issues, health insurance reform, and public support of many of Barack Obama’s fiscal policies.
Weakness: Independence by convenience. Crist only really became an independent out of necessity — he was badly trailing Marco Rubio in the polls for the Republican primary election for Florida’s open Senate seat in 2010, and thought his political fortunes would be better served running as a third party candidate against Rubio and Democrat Kendrick Meek. However, Crist switched parties again last year, and is now a Democrat, and rumor has it he’s planning a political comebackm running for his old Governor’s seat in 2014.