On Monday, Duval County Democrats heard from a 2022 candidate for Governor, who let them know that at least one poll has him up over Gov. Ron DeSantis
U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, running for a second time as a Democratic candidate for the state’s top job, told the Duval County Democratic Executive Committee that he was ahead in one poll, despite the national platform afforded DeSantis.
“Recently we polled ahead of the Governor,” Crist told over 100 people on the monthly call, referring to a survey from St. Pete Polls that showed Crist up 45-44, inside the poll’s margin of error.
“It’s a long time away, but it’s encouraging,” Crist added, noting DeSantis has been on “national TV, statewide TV, the front page of every newspaper.”
“I haven’t been on a statewide ballot in seven years but I’m polling ahead of him,” Crist said.
Crist fared better in the head-to-head against DeSantis than the other viable Democratic candidate, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. However, other polling shows Fried ahead of Crist in the primary contest. And a Florida Chamber poll showed DeSantis ahead of Crist 51-43, so there is polling for everyone in the early stages of this race.
Crist has already made a play for Duval County voters, coming to Jacksonville earlier this year for several voter events, including two at iconic restaurants.
The former Governor and current Congressman visited The Pig Bar-B-Q on Lem Turner Road for a breakfast meeting that included Jacksonville City Councilman and current state Senate candidate Reggie Gaffney. Also on hand were former state Sen. Tony Hill, former state Rep. Terry Fields, and former City Council member Johnny Gaffney.
Crist is winning the endorsement game, meanwhile.
U.S. Rep. Al Lawson is the biggest name representing the region backing Crist, but not the only one. Former Senate Democratic Leader Audrey Gibson of Jacksonville and Rep. Tracie Davis, who is expected to run against Gaffney for Senate, both back Crist over Fried.
While some younger Democrats could endorse Fried, it seems like they are taking their time doing so, given the optics thus far.
Duval County has a Democratic plurality and has been winnable for Democrats outside of municipal elections. But the synergy between the national ticket and local candidates has proved elusive, and Republicans still dominate Jacksonville politically headed into redistricting.
In the 2014 General Election, Crist lost Duval County to Rick Scott by nearly 13% but defeated Nan Rich by more than a two-to-one margin in the Primary. With the county trending blue since, Democrats Joe Biden, Bill Nelson, Andrew Gillum, and Nikki Fried (also running for Governor) all carried it in recent elections.