GOP-backed mailers blast Charlie Crist’s progressive bona fides ahead of Dem primary
Charlie Crist seeks federal oversight of Florida elections.

Do Republicans want to thumb the scales for Nikki Fried?

New ads blasting Democrat Charlie Crist’s record paint the Republican Governor-turned-Democratic Congressman as weak on abortion and insensitive on race. Those attacks line up with many criticisms lobbed by Democratic opponent Nikki Fried.

But these ads trace back to political committees controlled by Republican operatives, a sign GOP consultants may seek to sabotage the Democratic frontrunner’s chances ahead of an Aug. 23 Democratic Primary.

Flyers hitting mailboxes now were paid for by the Social Justice PAC, a committee formed in 2016 by L. McInnis. Historically, the committee has helped moderate Democrats, like supporting Jacksonville City Councilman and state Senate candidate Reggie Gaffney. The committee in July contributed $1,000 to South Florida state Rep. James Bush III.

But the group also just spent $9,566 on advertising with Data Targeting, a prominent Republican consulting firm based in Gainesville.

The product of that buy? Some signature hard-hitting pieces with memorable art and sharp opposition research-backed digs on Crist.

One shows Crist in the background of a black-and-white photo of a chain gang made up entirely of Black inmates. “Charlie Crist stood over 3 Black men, on their knees and in chains, and said I see justice,’” reads bold text on the mailer. It cites a 1995 news story, tracing back to Crist’s time as a Republican state Senator who sponsored bills allowing sheriffs to deploy prisoners in chain gangs.

Another attacks Crist for judicial appointments he made during one term as a Republican Governor. “Charlie Crist stacked the Supreme Court with ‘anti-choice activist’ judges,” a headline read. “They sit on the court today.” Crist as Governor appointed Charles Canady and Ricky Polston to the Florida Supreme Court, something he now lists among his regrets from time in service.

A third mailer itemizes a list of positions dating back to Crist’s time as a Republican that he likely doesn’t want highlighted as he runs for the Democratic nomination for Governor. Crist’s campaign, for it’s part, said Democratic voters shouldn’t be fooled and ought to be suspicious of why Republican operatives want Fried to win the nomination over Crist.

“Nikki Fried’s campaign is being aided by a Republican PAC attempting to mislead voters on Charlie’s record,” said Samantha Ramirez, Crist communications director. “Nikki Fried should step up and show leadership by denouncing these false Republican attacks against Charlie.”

Besides Data Targeting, the political committee holds other connections to Republican politics. Social Justice PAC during it’s first six years of existence raised a little more than $169,000. But on July 19, it reported a major infusion of cash courtesy a $120,000 check from the Consortium of North East Florida, and that was followed by another $10,000 contribution on July 25. That lists a Gainesville address also belonging to Data Systems of North Florida, a prominent consulting firm run by William Stafford Jones.

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].


  • Joe Corsin

    August 8, 2022 at 7:34 am

    Vote RED for crooks and grifters
    Vote RED for lies in the name of Jesus
    Vote RED for shoveling money to the rich
    Vote RED for neo nazi culture war
    Vote RED for abominable right wing terrorists
    Vote RED for election thieves

  • MP

    August 11, 2022 at 10:08 am

    Stafford Jones best start practicing his allocution: “I apologize to the state of Florida and to you, your honor.” The day is coming.

Comments are closed.


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