Charlie Crist's Summer of Stumbles Continues

By: Jeff Henderson | Posted: July 16, 2014 3:55 AM
Charlie Crist

Charlie Crist

Charlie Crist’s bad summer continued on Tuesday as Republicans giddily brought out a deed for a Fisher Island home that Crist and his wife Carole sold back in 2012 but didn’t include in any of their tax returns or financial disclosure forms that they released to the public. 

The news comes at a bad time for Crist. The new Democrat had a double-digit lead over Rick Scott last year and most recent polls have shown a dead heat or Scott ahead by a whisker. Liberals are still unhappy that Crist won’t debate primary opponent Nan Rich. After a series of high-profile defections, Crist’s campaign team seems to have settled into place, but there remain rumors that family members are actually calling the shots. The usually affable and charming Crist has been flatfooted as he reaches to Democratic primary voters, not exactly his natural constituency after all of his time positioning himself as a conservative Republican with national aspirations.

The most recent news hurts Crist even more. The Scott team aggressively called out Crist for not releasing his wife’s tax returns and now it appears they have drawn blood. With Crist leaving this transaction out of returns, natural follow-ups turn to what else could he have left out and why is he refusing to release his wife’s returns.

Crist and his team will counter that Scott is not exactly a paragon of transparency -- but that’s not the point. From early on, Scott’s gameplan was clear. He was never going to vault ahead of Crist so his task was to bring the Democrat back to where he was. Based on the polls, this seems to have worked since Scott has already been hitting the airwaves attacking Crist.

The middle of July isn’t exactly close to November, but Florida voters are starting to pay more attention to the elections, especially as candidates start bombarding their houses with mailings and running TV ads before the August primary. Crist and his team seem to get that and are trying to distract their supporters and the media with various distractions to draw attention away from how the campaign isn’t exactly living up to expectations. The latest on Tuesday was the Crist team bemoaning how Rick Scott’s chief of staff, Adam Hollingsworth, was connected to All Aboard Florida -- which explains why the governor rejected federal funds for high-speed rail. But Hollingsworth’s ties to All Aboard Florida was in the news back in February and Scott, like many conservatives, frowns on using federal monies for some projects.

Crist needs to go on the attack against Scott, of course, but he can’t afford to let the contest come down to just mudslinging between the two candidates. Those contests are usually won by the candidate with the most cash. If that’s the case, advantage Scott.

The bigger problem for Crist remains trying to let voters know who he is and what he stands for. Since he has never bothered to run for another term for any of the three statewide offices he’s held, and since he has switched parties twice in the last four years, that’s easier said than done for Crist. Democrats might have been warm to Crist at the start, as they hoped to win their first gubernatorial election in 20 years, but he no longer appears to be a sure bet like he did a year ago. Polls also show that, after Crist left the GOP, Republicans have given up on him in return. Any chance that Crist could grab a third or even a quarter of Republican voters has long since vanished.

As the election starts to gear up even more, Crist needs to figure out who he is, and the more time his campaign stalls and he is forced to play defense -- like he is over the home sale and his wife’s taxes -- hurts him in the long run. Crist needs more than “I’m not Rick Scott” if he wants to turn this around. After all his changes in parties and positions, Crist is going to have a hard time trying to explain to independents who he is and what he stands for.

Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.

Comments (13)

4:59PM JUL 18TH 2014
Funny that the auther sees Charlie's omission as something big but you never read about Scott's crooked deals throughout his entire life. I don't like either of the two and hope NanRich (I know, fat chance) wins so we'd at least have an opportunity for a Governor who is intelligent, concerned about the rest of us, and honest, unlike Scott and Crist!
It would be good to read a more balanced article here! Your writing qualifies you to write in the Orlando Slantinel!!
Tyler Barrett
9:02PM JUL 17TH 2014
I am seriously trying not to laugh at these "hardcore democrats" who are fully-backing Charlie just because he can bring money in. That's all it comes down to-- money. It makes me sick! Nan Rich is the only candidate in this race with a DEMOCRATIC RECORD. Charlie has voted against women and LGBT since he was first elected. Um ... yea. Not trusting him.
Bob Webster
12:57PM JUL 16TH 2014
Charlie Crist has one and only one priority: Charlie Crist

Democrats would do well to shun this blowhard and choose one of their own who is motivated by something other than personal aggrandizement.
Scott Marshall
12:11PM JUL 16TH 2014
Let's get this straight, Crist campaign points out all of the dozens of political and moral failings of Scott that is a distraction. The one and only thing Scotts campaign talks about (Crist wife),that you and your friends portray as important to the State of Florida. Laughable
11:37AM JUL 16TH 2014
It all comes down to Nan Rich. She is trending and Charlie is fading. When Democrats finally realize that Charlie is a pig in a poke they will elevate Nan to her rightful position as leader of the people and she will rally the troops."the first one now will later be last for "the times they are a-changin."
10:11AM JUL 16TH 2014
Luckily, Charlie can probably take a cue from Mittens and file some amended tax return to clear the whole thing up.
9:55AM JUL 16TH 2014
"As the election starts to gear up even more, Crist needs to figure out who he is,"...Crist knows who he is. He is and always has been a moderate Republican. The question voters need to decide is do they want a right wing Tea Bagger conservative like Rick Scott. We know what Rick Scott supports, more of the same conservative BS shoved down our throats. Scott will spend any amount of money to win, unfortunately for Scott, the people of Florida now know what a pandering, deceitful snake he is.
Bob Webster
12:59PM JUL 16TH 2014
"tea bagger"? Smarmy attacks discredit the attacker, not the target.
7:57AM JUL 16TH 2014
Charlie never once took the 5th, which is only used by criminals, like the mafia.
5:17PM JUL 16TH 2014
So you are saying that Lois Lerner is a criminal?
7:21AM JUL 16TH 2014
Different than heading a healthcare Company that thought Medicare was theirs for profit and walked away with pockets full of money. Scott's voters could have cared less. He is a GOP and that all it takes.
6:33AM JUL 16TH 2014
Ol' Charlie has defined himself... He's a political slut... Remember as he was deciding to run as an "Independent" for Senate against Marco Rubio when he last minute Vetoed the Education Reform Bill, overwhelmingly passed by The Florida Legislature in hopes the Teachers Union would get him enough votes to win ???.... That is just one example...Republicans didn't want him, Independents didn't like him, so he became a Damocrat...
9:04AM JUL 16TH 2014
Little SunTan Charlie is owned and operated by Morgan and Morgan...For the People for 40% plus expenses. Imagine if this little whore was governor again with Morgan his pimp calling the shots.

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