U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist has announced his run for Governor.
As the first major Democratic candidate in the race, Florida Democratic leaders have been reacting to the news of him challenging Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.
This will mark Crist’s third run for Governor. He served in the office from 2007 to 2011 as a Republican, and ran an unsuccessful Democratic campaign in 2014, which he lost against now-Sen. Rick Scott.
His deep history with state politics will likely be a double-edged sword for the Representative. Republicans dislike him for dumping the party and, as a former Republican, some Democrats remain skeptical. But, others see something different: a politician willing to stand for what’s right, even if it means bucking his party.
Here’s what supporters have to say:
Former President Barack Obama official Eric Lynn applauded Crist’s entrance into the race and teased a potential run to fill the seat that will be left empty by Crist in the House.
“I couldn’t be more excited about Charlie Crist’s campaign for Governor,” Lynn said. “Floridians need a strong Democratic leader to beat Ron DeSantis. We have to do everything we can to keep our Congressional District blue and I will be making a decision very soon about whether I will run for Congress from my hometown.”
Hillsborough County Democratic Rep. Andrew Learned tweeted sentiments that many may be feeling right now: “And so it begins.”
“I’m sure I’ll have friends on both sides of many races in the months ahead,” Learned wrote. “I wish all luck and a clean campaign. We cannot lose focus on the real threat to our democracy, getting shots into arms, and dollars in pockets.”
And so it begins…
I'm sure I'll have friends on both sides of many races in the months ahead, and I wish all luck and a clean campaign. We cannot lose focus on the real threat to our democracy, getting shots into arms, and dollars in pockets!
— Rep. Andrew Learned (@AndrewLearned) May 4, 2021
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, who, like Crist, has been a vocal opponent of DeSantis, praised Crist, saying “I am excited about Charlie’s candidacy, and excited about the strong field of Democratic candidates for Governor that will likely emerge.”
“Charlie Crist is my friend,” Kriseman wrote. “Public service courses through his veins. No job has ever been too big or too small for him – he simply wants to give back and ensure that people, everyday Floridians, are always being put first.”
Charlie Crist is my friend. Public service courses through his veins. No job has ever been too big or too small for him – he simply wants to give back and ensure that people, everyday Floridians, are always being put first. https://t.co/1G9OdVJEa9
— Rick Kriseman (@Kriseman) May 4, 2021
Rep. Ben Diamond, a St. Petersburg Democrat, helped introduce Crist on Tuesday, saying Floridians have a chance to elect somebody with “compassion” who focuses on issues that are important to them.
“Charlie’s a listener, he’s a doer and he has humility,” Diamond said.
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, the only statewide elected Democrat and one of Crist’s likely primary rivals, indicated she would rather see Crist run for reelection to his congressional seat in a swing area.
“Certainly, I have had communications with Congressman Crist. It is a time when we need his voice and his vote up in Washington, D.C.,” Fried said. “His seat is one that only probably Charlie Crist can hold on to. So, I’d really like to have encouraged him to stay in Congress. But, certainly today is Charlie’s day and I wish him the best of luck.”
The News Service of Florida contributed to this post. Republished with permission.