'People's Gov.' Charlie Crist Relies on Hollywood and Hamptons for Campaign Cash
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According to recent polls, Rick Scott has caught up with Charlie Crist, even squeaking out a little lead over his rival -- leading the new Democrat to go out of Florida to hunt for money, which means he’s asking celebrities for cash.
Scott has built up his campaign coffers and can, of course, open his own wallet for cash. Despite working for John Morgan, Crist can only count on the trial lawyers for so much. The same holds true for the teachers' unions despite Crist flipping to their side back in 2010 when he vetoed SB 6.
So Crist is headed out of state to raise money. “Page Six” of the New York Post, not exactly a staple of political journalism, reported on a fundraiser for Crist on Long Island next month. On June 21, well into the season when New York’s elite leave the city for the Hamptons, a fundraiser will be hosted by some of the glitterati, including Jill Zarin who is probably best known for her role in “The Real Housewives of New York City.”
Nor is this Crist’s only recent dalliance with the media elite. Reports this week showed that liberal Hollywood is placing its bets on Crist. Famous director Steven Spielberg, his wife actress Kate Capshaw and entertainment mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg have all sent Crist five-digit contributions.
Crist is playing up the populist talk, referring to himself as the “people’s governor” and fighting “for the people” -- not coincidentally Morgan & Morgan’s slogan in advertisements across Florida, including billboards and TV ads featuring the former governor. In his early attacks on Scott, Crist has called the governor out for using a private airplane and helicopter to travel.
But there’s a downside to this line of attack. Crist’s support from Hollywood and the Hamptons rightfully raises questions of his populist support. So does Crist attacking Scott at a meeting of trial lawyers this week for using a helicopter to fly around the state before quickly backtracking and asking if any of the lawyers in the room would let him use their chopper.
Crist’s supporters rightfully recognize that their candidate needs to be able to compete with Scott on television and that the way to do it is by raising cash. There simply isn’t enough Democratic money in Florida to compete with Scott and, having spent years as a Republican, it’s new territory for Crist. But relying on Hollywood bigwigs and New York celebrities isn’t going to play well in Palatka, Wesley Chapel or Monticello. Crist has to be very careful as to how he balances his financial needs without alienating voters.
Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.