Look Over Your Shoulder, Charlie, Nan Has Her Own Campaign Sluggers
Around the State
In their rush to expose the heavyweights who jumped aboard Charlie Crist's gubernatorial campaign, mainstream media in general are looking right past the team of sluggers Nan Rich has quietly assembled.
"Not all of Obama's election team are helping Charlie," said Rich. "I've got a few of my own."
"I've got people who are committed to the principles of the Democratic Party on my team, who worked to re-elect the president at the grassroots level, one voter at a time. They know how to get the job done.
"I have a great team," she told Sunshine State News.
Ironically, Rich was praising her team at about the same time Thursday that Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times was writing about Charlie Crist's "incredibly shrinking campaign." In his story, Smith concluded this: "Most everybody in Florida politics expected Charlie Crist to run for governor as a Democrat at least six months ago. It's hard to explain how at this point he could still be putting together a campaign staff."
Meanwhile, here are some of the team stars for Nan Rich, the candidate so many predicted would be out of the race by now:
Jackie de Carvalho, the Obama campaign’s deputy state coordinator for Florida, is running Rich’s field program. De Carvalho knows Florida, especially Democrat-rich South Florida; knows where the votes are buried, and, says Rich, "Jackie was outstanding, impressive in helping to deliver Florida to the president in 2012. My campaign is all grassroots, which makes a good field director so important."
Heavy-hitter Sterling Clifford is a communications consultant for Rich's campaign. Clifford isn't used to losing. He was campaign spokesman for former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon in 2008, the same for California Gov. Jerry Brown in 2010, and then communications director for state of Washington Gov. Jay Inslee's campaign in 2012. "I'm not in Florida all the time," Clifford told Sunshine State News on Thursday. "But I'm there a lot and my presence in Florida will increase as the campaign goes on."
Rich calls Patricia Ireland "a powerhouse" at campaign events -- a celebrity and a presence who draws Democratic women like a magnet. Ireland served as president of the National Organization for Women from 1991 to 2001, and she published an autobiography, "What Women Want," in 1996. "Everybody knows who she is wherever we go. Patricia is a perfect reflection of my positions. She and (Palm Beach County Tax Collector) Anne Gannon are our celebrities, they're volunteers and they're wonderful."
Said Rich, "Our campaign team is small but mighty."
When asked if she's thinking about getting out of the race, Rich admits she's been encouraged to fold her tent, but then she laughs. "Charlie Crist went from a 12-point lead over Rick Scott to a 2-point lead. With the margin of error, they're even.
"I think ultimately I can beat Charlie -- I'm a true Democrat," she said. "Democrats know my positions and know they can trust me to stay true to them. This is what I keep trying to tell the trial lawyers. And in November I have a better chance of beating Scott than Charlie does."
Dean Keller, a Rich supporter in Tallahassee, told SSN, "The trouble with Charlie is, every time he states a position, it's the opposite of where he was last time he was governor. He's got to defend that kind of moral dishonesty over and over again for the next how many months? Too many months. In the end, Democrats won't want to come out for Crist. But Nan doesn't have that kind of handicap."
Keller said Crist "tripped over his own feet" earlier this week. As soon as he said he wanted to challenge the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, reporters -- some of them, anyway -- were all over it like ants on a picnic table, reporting that Charlie Crist endorsed the ban and personally signed the petition to put it on the ballot when he was a Republican governor.
"Charlie is already a mess," Keller said. "Nan has her act together."
Reach Nancy Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 228-282-2423.