Florida has been good to you. You’ve been good to Florida too. You’ve changed a lot during your political career. The Democratic Party welcomed you. We made you our candidate for governor. We sent you to Congress. Now, we need you to help us usher in a new generation of leadership, not stand in its way.
In 2010, I cast one of a handful of votes I have ever cast against a Democrat in a partisan election.
I voted for you for U.S. Senate. I liked you and thought you’d be a good, moderate representative of our purple state. Most of all, I thought you had a better chance of beating Marco Rubio than Kendrick Meek did.
I don’t regret that vote.
In 2014, I actively campaigned for you for Governor. I fully embraced your move into the Democratic Party. You came close to winning, but you fell short.
Congress proved to be a soft landing spot for you. You get to continue to serve and enjoy the support of a community that could just as easily choose a Republican to represent them.
If Congress isn’t where you want to be, I’d understand. You’ve been an executive. Being 1 of 435 in a body where seniority dictates so much, it’s a long way to the top.
Running for Governor again isn’t the solution. It shouldn’t even be an option.
Florida has a bench of talented leaders, many of them young, and many of them bringing diversity that represents our party.
Nikki Fried is the first Jewish woman ever elected statewide.
Val Demings could be both the first woman and the first Black person to represent Florida in the U.S. Senate.
Lauren Book has an incredible story of not only survival but turning tragedy into service.
Fentrice Driskel is a brilliant young attorney and public servant.
Dotie Joseph represents an underserved Caribbean community and uses her Ivy League education and legal background to impact lives.
Jason Pizzo has done more good in two years than most state legislators do in 16.
Nick Duran is a rising star who could be our best hope of winning back a lost congressional seat in Miami-Dade County.
Dave Aronberg has brought justice for victims others ignore.
Shevrin Jones is breaking glass ceilings and proving you can be both progressive and effective in Florida.
Melissa McKinlay could finally give Florida a statewide elected official who comes from local government.
Stephanie Murphy is a doer in Congress and represents the get-it-done attitude, and common-sense values Florida needs and deserves.
I could go on and on about talented young people our party needs to nurture into the next generation of leadership. We need your help. We need you to be supporting and guiding these people, not running against them. You won’t find glory in recycling past efforts. You’ll find it in ensuring a better future for all of us.
Be the mentor that helps these and the countless other talented young public servants our party has to offer become what you were.
We don’t need you on the statewide ballot. We need you at the table to help those who are.
You can make a monumental impact on our state for generations to come. Don’t hold the next generation back by seeking a return to your prior service. Put them on your shoulders and elevate them to where you have been. Be the mentor they need, not the person who stands in their way.
We want you, Charlie. Just not the way you want us to.
Our party is ready for new leadership. Instead of ending your political career by losing a primary, continue it by being the fuel that takes us into the future.
Evan Ross is a principal of Public Communicators Group, a public affairs firm that engages in lobbying, public relations, and business development.