Charlie Crist bringing Joe Kennedy to St. Pete for health care rally


U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist hopes for a boost from the Kennedy clan next month. The Tampa Democrat will speak at a rally with U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III in St. Petersburg in early August.

The #ProtectOurCare event will take place Aug. 7 at Williams Park, where a line-up of advocates will discuss ways to preserve and improve affordable healthcare in the state of Florida. An event announcement makes clear ObamaCare will also be a hot topic of discussion, with the two Democratic congressmen ready to discuss “fighting attempts to undermine protections for those with pre-existing conditions, holding ‘Big Pharma’ accountable for rising prescription drug prices, and calling on Florida to expand Medicaid.”

On Twitter, Crist made clear his own support for the Affordable Care Act and desire to expand Medicaid in Florida. He also says he expects a fight over requirements for insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions.

Kennedy, a Massachusetts representative, has been a popular speaker nationally, appearing last week on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. There, he talked about efforts for Democrats to retake the House of Representatives this November. That likely means winning a number of Republican-controlled seats in Florida, but also requires defending a couple of purple seats including Florida’s 13th Congressional District.

Crist, a former Republican governor who since changed parties, won in the Tampa-based district in 2016 after defeating Republican incumbent David Jolly. That year, Crist took 51.9 percent of the vote, eking out a narrow 14,544-vote victory and flipping the seat even as Republican Donald Trump won Florida’s electoral votes in the presidential election.

This year, Crist will face the winner of an Aug. 28 Republican primary between George Buck and Brad Sostack.

While the tight district should be one of the places Republicans put Democrats on defense this year with a freshman congressman elected in a close race two years ago, political prognosticator Larry Sabato still lists the race as “Likely Democratic” on his 2018 election forecast.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


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