Charlie Crist makes much anticipated gubernatorial announcement
Former Florida Governor Charlie Crist will run against Governor Rick Scott in 2014. During a rally Monday near Albert Whitted Airport in downtown St. Petersburg, Crist said he wants to give Tallahassee back to the people.
“So today, I announce that I am running for governor of Florida.”
Crist’s announcement had been anticipated for months.
“Rick Scott like his gang and this gang in Washington and here in Florida seem to think that the only way to govern is from the fringes – that anyone who doesn’t agree with them on everything is an enemy, or worse yet, somehow not as patriotic.”
Much of Crist’s speech centered on criticism of Scott’s administration and partisan issues he says are plaguing the halls of Tallahassee. But Crist’s political history has already become a talking point among critics. Republican Party of Florida chair Lenny Curry responded to Crist’s announcement during a conference call Monday.
“Charlie Crist is a political opportunist and we cannot trust him as Governor of the State of Florida.”
Rick Scott’s campaign, Let’s Get to Work, released its first ad targeting Crist Monday.
About a dozen Rick Scott supporters passed out cardboard fans near the rally echoing what the Republican Party is saying about Crist, that he switched first from Republican to independent and then to Democrat. The group even rented a sky banner advertising their Republican Party-sponsored website which also criticizes the party hopping. Crist argues his change of party affiliation shows a willingness to work with lawmakers from other political parties.
“It is not a sin to reach across the aisle; it is your obligation to work together.”
Another concern is fundraising. So far, Rick Scott has already raised close to $20 million and during the 2010 election against Democrat Alex Sink he spent more than $50 million of his own money. Crist said he’s relying on supporters to get the word out through a more grassroots effort.
“Because if we are tireless in our desire to make Florida a better place again then Rick Scott can spend a billion dollars on dishonest ads and it won’t matter.”
About 150 people showed up to watch Crist’s announcement. Mike Reynard lives in the affluent island community Tierra Verde.
“I’m also a pissed off Republican.”
He said he’s supporting Crist because he’s not a Republican.
“I grew up in John Boehner’s district. I’ve had enough. I’ve donated money to the Democratic Party to unseat him. I’m just tired of everything the Republicans have done.”
Not everyone there was completely sold on Charlie Crist as their choice for governor. USF student Alyson Strand said her group, the college Democrats, have not endorsed a candidate for the Primary Election yet.
“I know people are iffy about Charlie Crist because he was a Republican, but I know people are also iffy about Nan Rich because we haven’t had a woman as our governor before.”
Former South Florida State Senator Nan Rich is one of the five other Democrats who have filed to run for Governor. In a press release Monday, she challenged Crist to a series of ten debates. Crist laid out five plans for the state during his nearly 30-minute speech. One of his goals is to improve the state’s transportation infrastructure.
“In the post-shuttle era, we must work to Port Canaveral into one of the world’s leading transportation hubs – a place where goods and services can be shipped by rail, road, water, air or space. And yes, my friends, we are going to renew the effort to create high speed rail and mass transit system.”
He also said he’d focus on tax cuts that benefit small businesses and middle class Floridians.
“Today, Florida’s tax policy only works if you are a special interest with the lobbyist. But if not, if you are a … but it is everyday people and small business people all across our state who are the true engine of our economy.”
Crist also promised to restore funding to public education that was cut during Scott’s administration. That includes a billion dollar cut his first year in office and a $300,000 cut to the state’s university system. U.S. Representative Kathy Castor, a Democrat, said that is reason enough to vote for Crist.
“He stood up for those students and for the highest quality education whether it’s k-12 or our university system. In contrast, Rick Scott, when he came into office, he slashed and burned the education [system].”
Crist also said he’d launch a push to grow the state’s renewable energy sources.
“We are going to remove the monopoly by big utility companies and let smaller companies who specialize in renewable energy compete and make it easier and cheaper for you to put solar on your home or business.”
The Primary election will be next August 26. The General Election is one year from Monday.