In a stunning reversal of fortune, the chances of oil and gas drilling as near as five miles off Florida's coast have gone from reasonably possible to highly improbable — all thanks to the massive oil spill from the still uncapped well in the Gulf of Mexico.
The environmental nightmare has huge political implications in Florida with its economy heavily reliant on beach-driven tourism. It has handed candidates running for state and national office here a political bonanza as many line up to oppose drilling, which was, until recently, strongly favored by incoming state House Republican leaders.
Gov. Charlie Crist took this political windfall the ultimate step Tuesday with his correct call for a special session to place a constitutional amendment banning all drilling 10 miles off Florida's coast on the November ballot.
The amendment wasn't the governor's idea, however. Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, who is running for governor, state Sen. Dan Gelber, seeking the attorney general's post, and other Democratic lawmakers first called for one last week. Senate President Jeff Atwater, a Republican candidate for chief financial officer, supports the special session.
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