Politics & Government

Crist's independent Senate bid backed by GOP mayor of Miami-Dade

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez staunchly defended Gov. Charlie Crist for supporting the federal economic stimulus package at the governor's first fundraiser Sunday as a nonpartisan candidate for the U.S. Senate.

The Republican mayor said it would have been "flat-out wrong" not to accept the handout from the Democratic administration, which amounted to more than $200 million for public safety, housing and transit in Miami-Dade.

Asked if the governor could have taken the money without campaigning for it with President Barack Obama, Alvarez said, "It's kind of hypocritical to take the money and then badmouth it."

Former House Speaker Marco Rubio's relentless attacks against the $787 billion stimulus plan helped him overtake Crist in polls of Republican voters, forcing the governor to run as an independent or face getting crushed in the Aug. 24 GOP primary. Rubio has said he would have accepted most of the federal money if he was governor but argued that the $787 billion spending plan was the wrong approach to the recession.

"What would have happened to our budget without the stimulus money?" Alvarez asked the crowd of about 150 people at the Grand Beach Hotel in Miami Beach, "The people who criticize it have never run anything in their lives."

Former State Sen. Ken Pruitt of Port St. Lucie, a Republican who served as SenatePresident when Rubio led the House, introduced Crist — now in a three-way race to Nov. 2. against Rubio and the leading Democratic candidate, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami.

Follow this story at MiamiHerald.com

Related stories from McClatchy DC