Ron DeSantis challenges party-flipping, ‘slithering’ Charlie Crist ahead of campaign kickoff
Ron DeSantis. Image via Jason Delgado.

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Crist formally announces his campaign Tuesday.

Gov. Ron DeSantis is squeezing in jabs against Rep. Charlie Crist only a few hours into the Democratic Congressman’s latest gubernatorial run.

Crist, who was elected to the Governor’s Mansion in 2006 as a Republican, officially kicked off his 2022 campaign for Governor in St. Petersburg Tuesday.

In a video released ahead of Crist’s formal announcement, the former Governor took on how DeSantis handled the COVID-19 pandemic, noting the 35,000 dead Floridians.

However, when asked by reporters, the incumbent stood by his antilockdown, probusiness approach to the pandemic.

“I implore them — from my political interest — run on closing schools, run on locking people down, run on closing businesses,” DeSantis said. “I would love to have that debate, because I can tell you this, we have saved people’s livelihoods.”

Recent polls have shown the Governor’s popularity up amid the late stages of the pandemic. According to one Cygnal poll, 60% of Floridians approve of his pandemic response.

States run by Democrats, like New York, New Jersey and Illinois, are facing disastrous economic and educational damages stemming from prolonged lockdowns, according to the Governor.

“Florida COVID mortality per capita, even with one of the oldest populations, we’re less than the national average,” he continued. “We’re less than the states that all these Democrats would have mimicked.”

DeSantis on Monday appeared in St. Petersburg at “The Big Catch,” one of Crist’s favorite restaurants, to sign a bill and executive orders curbing local emergency orders. When asked by reporters, the Governor laughed off the possible gamesmanship at play.

Crist easily won his 2006 race for Governor after getting elected in 2000 and 2002 as Attorney General and Education Commissioner, the latter of which subsequently became an appointed post. But Crist did not run for a second term as Governor in 2010, instead leaving the Republican Party and launching an independent bid for a U.S. Senate seat. Crist lost the race to Republican Marco Rubio and was sidelined politically.

Crist became the Democratic nominee for Governor in 2014, but lost to incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott. He then won his Pinellas County congressional seat in 2016.

“Which party is he going to run under? Do we know for sure?” DeSantis quipped.

DeSantis noted Crist’s past losses in statewide campaigns, including his 1998 run for Senate as a Republican. However Crist, now a Democrat in Congress, has voted with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, of San Francisco, and President Joe Biden‘s position 100% of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight.

“He could probably give it a run for the Green Party in San Francisco, liberal Green Party,” DeSantis said.

During another appearance in Miami, reporters asked the Governor whether he would prefer taking on Crist, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried or Orlando U.S. Rep. Val Demings, to which DeSantis settled on “the more the merrier.” The later two are possible candidates for the Democratic nomination, though neither have announced their intentions.

One advantage Crist will have in the coming year is name recognition.

“Any time there’s an open office somewhere, you can bet someone like a Crist is probably going to be slithering around for it,” DeSantis said.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


7 comments

  • FL

    May 4, 2021 at 4:35 pm

    What an *sshole. DeSantis is perpetually nasty and perpetually angry.

  • Beth

    May 4, 2021 at 4:47 pm

    DeSantis is nothing but a vile waste of space. No brains, no compassion, just an immature pathetic racist creep. Can’t wait to see him voted out. We need a real governor.

  • Tjb

    May 4, 2021 at 5:25 pm

    Ronnie, get real, you sold your soul to Trump. The people of Florida will suffer under your soulless leadership.

  • zhombre

    May 4, 2021 at 5:58 pm

    Three idiots and DeSantis haters in a row. What total and complete a-holes. The three of you would be much happer living somewhere else, perhaps in New York where you could lavish sickening drooling praise on Andrew Cuomo. I for one would be happy to see your miserable backsides cross the Georgia line,

    • FL

      May 4, 2021 at 6:17 pm

      lmfaooo

      Anytime someone criticizes DeSantis the only thing his worshippers parrot is “What about Cuomo?!” as if Coumo being terrible makes DeSantis any less bad.

      DeSantis is trampling on home rule and consolidating power in a genuinely concerning manner. His is administration and the state government now can dictate what my city does with its own budget and MY taxes. It baffles me how “small government conservatives” at all support a dude who’s taking power from localities everywhere he can and trampling on our constitution when it comes to freedom of assembly, due process and our ability to vote.

      DeSantis is a tyrant. Full stop. And you guys worship him too much to see it.

    • James R. Miles

      May 5, 2021 at 9:31 am

      DeSatan is just another Trump butt-kisser who, like you can’t think for himself you frothing GOP troll! Keep smoking those cigs and you hopefully will just go away!!

      • zhombre

        May 5, 2021 at 9:55 am

        Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha you and FL are hilarious screaming like scalded cats. I love it when dumb little Dem trolls get all sanctimonious and superior and spout shit like a broken sewage pipe

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