George Sheldon's Back in Charlie Crist's Shadow

By: Jeff Henderson | Posted: September 2, 2014 3:55 AM
George Sheldon and Charlie Crist

George Sheldon and Charlie Crist

Charlie Crist and George Sheldon will be at the top of the Democratic ticket this year, a strange fate for these former rivals and current allies. As he takes on Pam Bondi in the fall, Sheldon won't be able to eclipse Crist who is running against Rick Scott. 

Crist and Sheldon clashed in the 2000 elections when they were both running to be education commissioner. Unlike the presidential election in Florida that year, the contest wasn’t particularly close as Crist went on to beat Sheldon by 7 percent in the general election. Crist, then a Republican, bombarded Sheldon with attack ads back in 2000, hitting the Democrat on everything from being soft on drugs and for a drunk driving incident from years before.

They could have clashed again two years later. That time out, Crist set his eyes on being attorney general and went on to win the Republican nomination. Despite being Bob Butterworth’s deputy attorney general, Sheldon never gained much traction in 2002 when he ran for his boss’s job. Sheldon came in last in the three-man Democratic primary, finishing behind Buddy Dyer, who went on to lose to Crist, and Scott Maddox.

As the years went by and Crist moved on to being governor, Sheldon resurfaced -- this time, surprisingly enough, as a member of his old rival’s administration. Crist named Butterworth to head up the Department of Children and Families. Sheldon tagged along for his old boss as his deputy once again. When Butterworth left DCF, Sheldon moved up to fill the vacant position.

Despite their previous acrimony, Sheldon proved a loyal trooper for Crist and he used the position to head to Washington. Sheldon was a member of the Obama administration as acting assistant secretary for children and families in the federal department of Health and Human Services and left last fall to run against Bondi.

In spite of his experience and credentials, both of which are admittedly impressive, Sheldon has always come off as the type of politician who does better being appointed to office than winning it in his own right. Even his strong showing against Perry Thurston in Tuesday’s primary doesn’t change that.

Sheldon certainly possesses an earnest and intelligent public persona, which means, in all likelihood, he’ll get eclipsed by the much more charming and charismatic Crist. Even after mulling over a run for governor in 2010, in all his years on the political stage, Sheldon never really stepped into a leading role and that’s not going to change now. Sheldon has always carried somebody else’s coat, be it Reubin Askew’s, Butterworth’s and now, of all people, the man who defeated him back in 2010. Being lumped together on the same ticket is just the latest twist in the odd and tangled political careers of Charlie Crist and George Sheldon.

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

Comments (7)

2:57PM SEP 2ND 2014
I can't figure out this sentence:

"Sheldon came in last in the three-man Democratic primary, finishing behind Buddy Dyer, who went on to lose to Crist and Scott Maddox."

Dyer won the primary for attorney general and went on to lose to two people? Did two people win the election?

I'm a newcomer to Florida. I really like these articles that give me some background info. Thanks!
Kevin Derby
3:38PM SEP 2ND 2014
Thanks for the catch and we made a quick edit. In the 2002 Democratic AG primary, Buddy Dyer won followed by Scott Maddox in second and George Sheldon in third.
11:32AM SEP 2ND 2014
Why vote between 2 known liars? Florida, we are fortunate enough not to
be stuck picking one liar or the other this time. We actually have an
alternative. Take advantage of the opportunity. Adrian Wyllie deserves
my vote. He is a honest average Floridian just as you and I , that is
willing to stand up and do something for the interest of all of us here
in Florida. The other candidates both Republican and Democrat are owned
and controlled by special interest, like puppets and will lie to your
face to gain your vote, then continue the same old agenda that we
complain about year after year. Time to get off this merry-go-round,
election after election, thinking it will be any different. Take a
stand, vote for the candidate that loves this state and is willing to
take time out of his life, effort and money to SERVE the people of
Florida and stop voting for these ‘paid for’ career politicians that are
only out for money and fame and have zero interest in us Floridians.
Even if it’s just for honesty alone, vote for Adrian Wyllie instead of
the other two (Scott/Crist) which are proven liars. The choice is yours
and yours alone, if you want the same old corruption and slap in the
face, go ahead and vote for one of the two puppets (Scott/Crist) OR do
what is right for our (yours and your children’s) future and vote for
Adrian Wyllie. Support him by donating to his campaign, spreading the
word and contribute to the super brochure program which I think is very
powerful. Visit his website today.,..
The Swampfox
11:29AM SEP 2ND 2014
It sounds like Charlie doesn't care what party banner he's carrying so as long as he's elected. Narcissistic, I would think so. What is even more disturbing about this is if you are a voter and believe in placing a person that will properly represent you then why in the hell would anyone vote for Crist when you don't know what he stands for? At least this much we can say, "he stands for himself getting elected!"

From what I've seen in the short time being a permanent Florida resident is this: The democratic party needed a candidate Crist is no doubt charming and charismatic, Crist needed a platform to feed his narcissist greed for power BINGO...WE HAVE A MATCH! However, Crist lacks ethics, and credibility to Govern in the best interest of Floridians. Look if you want to be technical about this everyone has some type of baggage to deal with and most of it is fabricated by spin, the press, and malcontents of their opponents. However, what Crist has in his corner is basically un-refutable, public record, and is not by any stretch of the imagination water fountain scuttlebutt. Charlie Crist has a serious credibility issues as to what his belief's are. Governor Scott may have some baggage however, Crist has a few moving vans lined up behind him that come November I am sure the voters are going to say, "Move back from where you came from.......Can someone tell me where that might be???
9:36AM SEP 2ND 2014
Sometimes spinners spin themselves in circles. And get dizzy. "Sheldon never really stepped into a leading role...."

Per the article, Sheldon 'stepped into the leading role' as head of FL DCF; then stepped into another leading role for the country as Actg Aasst Secretary for the Administration for Children and Families.

As the campaign moves forward and issues rise to the surface, e.g., the amt of tax payers money Bondi has wasted on frivolous lawsuits, voters of Florida will take heed.
Fran k
9:15AM SEP 2ND 2014
The voting public is totally inept and incapable of voting for a qualified person. Instead, they vote for the one that makes the best promises.

How anyone could vote for this guy is testimony to the broken system we currently have.
Rebecca Sharp
9:09AM SEP 2ND 2014
Well Sheldon is very unimpressive and Sorry Charlie is the sorriest excuse for a human being there is! That is the problem, they are both CAREER politicians. The Constitution is clear about that, part time, term limits then go back to your old CAREER. Politics today a lot like Medicaid/EBT, which all suck tits are making a CAREER out of sucking off the Gooberment, i.e. WE THE PEOPLE. It's time for a true American Patriot change, time for Bill Wohlsifer, a man with integrity, a commitment to the Rule of Law and Due Process, a man with a clear vision for Florida. Neither of these "Politicians" have nothing but what's in it for them! Vote Bill Wohlsifer for Attorney General, the only man in the race that is FOR THE PEOPLE!

Leave a Comment on This Story

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.