Enter Stage Left, Ever so Gently -- Charlie Crist

By: Jeff Henderson | Posted: May 10, 2013 3:55 AM

Charlie Christ

Florida Gov. Charlie Christ

Former Gov. Charlie Crist, now the front-runner to be the Democratic challenger to Gov. Rick Scott next year, is on the move, increasing his visibility as he works to endear himself to his new party.

Crist also is increasingly showing signs of moving left on social issues.

Crist had been a Republican, winning statewide elections for governor, attorney general and education commissioner under the GOP banner. Setting his eyes on the U.S. Senate in 2010, the then-governor ran for the Republican nomination. But, after being caught by an unforgiving conservative party base supporting President Barack Obama’s stimulus, Crist began to fall in the polls. By March 2010 Marco Rubio had overtaken him in every Senate poll in Florida.

Crist abandoned the GOP to run for the U.S. Senate without a party. He came in a distant second to Rubio. After endorsing Obama’s bid for a second term, Crist joined the Democrats in December 2012. He is expected to run again for governor in 2014, this time as a Democrat.

In the meantime, Crist is doing his best to make himself more palatable to his new party. Late Wednesday he weighed in on marriage, posting on his Facebook page his support for Delaware approving same-sex marriage.

“Some great news,” Crist wrote. “On Tuesday, Delaware became the 11th state to allow marriage equality. And just a few days ago, Rhode Island adopted a similar measure, which followed victories last fall in Maine, Maryland and Washington. I most certainly support marriage equality in Florida and look forward to the day it happens here.”

While he had often signaled support for civil unions, during his lengthy political career up until now, Crist was a supporter of only recognizing traditional marriage.

He is also ramping up his efforts to support Democrats. On Saturday, he will address Democrats meeting in Hillsborough County.

The former governor is also taking sides in what is expected to be one of the most competitive congressional races in Florida, come 2014. This week, he announced that he would attend a fundraiser on May 22 for Gwen Graham, daughter of former Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, who defeated Crist in the 1998 U.S. Senate election. Gwen Graham is looking to unseat Republican Congressman Steve Southerland.

The former governor will be at the event with another Democratic rival from the old days -- former Congressman Jim Davis, whom Crist beat out for governor in 2006. Other Democrats sponsoring the event include former Education Commissioner Betty Castor, Congresswoman Kathy Castor, and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

In backing Gwen Graham, Crist could be involved in what is potentially an interesting Democratic primary rival. Al Lawson, who was the leader of Democrats in the Florida Senate when Crist was governor, is expected to run once again for that congressional seat. Lawson offered a surprisingly strong challenge to incumbent Allen Boyd in 2010 before taking on Southerland in the 2012 general elections.

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

Tags: News, Politics

Comments (6)

kevin lee
1:32AM MAY 12TH 2013
I will be voteing for Rick Scott, if Charlie will be our nominee, he is too fake and will ruin our party and state for the future
10:30PM MAY 10TH 2013
it doesn't matter, scott will not be our next governor.
Scott Rothstein
2:16PM MAY 10TH 2013
This guy is such a tool. I am so tired of pandering politicians who say anything to get elected. "Great news?" Do you really think he believes that, or is it just politically convenient? I hope Democrats don't get blinded by this guy's insincerity. There are plenty of strong, consistent life-long Democratic candidates to beat Rick Scott.
7:22PM MAY 10TH 2013
More made-up noise from the rabid right . . . . just like the apparent made-up pseudonym from a Ponzi lawyer . . . .pitiful attempt at smear politics of the "Big Lie" by association . . .

Pathetic . . . .
8:07AM MAY 10TH 2013
He plans to push same sex marriage. His liberal agenda is sickening.

This guy is a liberal whackjob and he's already had his day in the sun. We need these professional politicians to move along and allow others the opportunity.

I know I won't be voting for this guy.
7:23PM MAY 10TH 2013
Tough to do if you're not even registered legally under this name . . .

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