Today’s Edition of the Miami Herald details how the 2014 Charlie Crist for Governor Campaign , is organized, mobilized, well financed and ready for a real fight to defeat the incumbent Gov. Rick Scott. The Democrats want the state of Florida back and they are pulling out all the stops to get Crist back in Tallahassee.
You know the story by now, Crist’s career as a Republican was ruined four years ago after he hugged President Barack Obama onstage. He went from being a moderate Republican to a moderate Democrat and that could be his political salvation.
Polling done in the state shows that Crist leads Scott big when it comes to women, blacks and Hispanics. Crist’s path to becoming the Gov. of Florida again can be achieved by getting those voting blocks out big time. Now he has the team in place that that has been a winner on the biggest political stage of all.
He now has the Florida campaign workers for President Obama, who has twice carried the Sunshine State.
At least seven former Obama Florida campaign workers — from his pollster to a top political consultant to media experts to his fundraiser — now form the nucleus of Crist’s new campaign team.
And top Obama donors, pleased with Crist’s help on the campaign in 2012, are expected to follow.
“I’ve always liked Charlie Crist, even when he was a Republican,” said Ralph Patino, a Coral Gables lawyer who helped the Obama campaign’s Futuro Fund raise $30 million last year for Hispanic outreach.
Patino, who hosted a Friday Democratic National Committee fundraiser headlined by Obama, invited Crist the day before when the governor stopped by and asked for his support.
“The Obama world has an interest in Crist — they had him speak at the Democratic National Convention,” Patino said. “That showed me, even back then, that they had an interest in Charlie Crist.”
Crist’s main rival for the Democratic nomination, former Weston state Sen. Nan Rich, points out that not everyone who supported Obama backs Crist.
“Barack Obama is not running for governor,” Rich said. “Nan Rich and Charlie Crist are.”
Rich joked that she hoped she’s “not being punished for supporting Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primary. But I supported Obama then and in 2012. Charlie Crist didn’t support Barack Obama in 2008; he was still a Republican.”
The following year, in February 2009, Crist put himself in the president’s good graces by becoming the only Republican governor to stand onstage with the president and advocate for his stimulus plan, officially called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
It cost Crist dearly — especially the brief onstage embrace with the president in Fort Myers. Republican Marco Rubio used the stage craft and the policy embrace of Crist to successfully portray him as unfit for the party when the two squared off in the 2010 race for U.S. Senate.
Crist, seeing his poll numbers tank, bolted from the GOP and became an independent. He only changed his registration to Democrat in December 2012.
“The hug killed me,” Crist said. “Now it could save me.”
But Obama’s support could be trickier for Crist if he wins the primary against Rich and heads into the general election backed by an unpopular White House.
Obama’s poll numbers have been tanking amid the flawed rollout of the Affordable Care Act’s website — Healthcare.gov — and the president’s repeated fib that those who like their health insurance could keep it under Obamacare.
Millions of Americans — about 5 percent of those insured — are losing their current health plans as insurance companies put them in new Obamacare-compliant plans that, for some, could cost more out of pocket. Others could pay less.