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With Florida’s gubernatorial election 18 months away, potential Democratic opponents to Gov. Ron DeSantis are starting to publicly declare their intentions to challenge him for the job.
Case in point, former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who now represents Florida’s 13th Congressional District. Crist had long been rumored to be considering jumping in the race, and today he made it official:
“This is a governor who doesn’t listen, who doesn’t care, and doesn’t think about you — unless of course you can write a campaign check,” Crist said. “Really, he sees our state’s wonderful diversity as a threat, not a strength we all celebrate. He’s failed to lead during the greatest health and economic crisis of our lifetime.”
He also said that DeSantis — a potential 2024 presidential contender — was more interested in his “personal political fortunes” and linked him to former President Donald Trump as someone “who always takes credit but never takes responsibility.”
In addition to Crist, two other potential contenders all but officially joined the race today as well:
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who held a press conference to call on DeSantis to veto a long line of bills, all but guaranteed Tuesday that she is running for governor. And Rep. Val Demings put out a biographical video on her social media account that appeared tailor-made for an expected bid.
But it was Crist’s announcement that got the most attention from the Florida press, who asked Gov. DeSantis about it the first chance they got. He responded accordingly:
“You know, people said Charlie Crist and I was just asking myself, ‘What party is he gonna run in this time?’” DeSantis said.
“I look at his voting record in the Congress, he has voted this Congress with Nancy Pelosi 100% of the time, so he probably could give it a run and be credible with the Green Party even, so who knows,” DeSantis said. “Look, anytime there’s an open office somewhere, you can bet someone like Crist is probably going to be slithering around for it, so that’s fine.”
LOL. “Slithering.” Such an apt description of Crist. Watch:
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) on Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL), a former Republican, running for governor:
“What party is he going to run in this time?” pic.twitter.com/rgYwGnKiZm
— The Recount (@therecount) May 4, 2021
Crist has a rather storied political history in Florida. As a Republican, he served in various state-level positions between 1992 and 2006, including State Senator, State Education Commissioner, and Florida Attorney General. He served as Governor of the state from 2007-2011. He did not run for reelection, instead declaring his candidacy in 2010 for the U.S. Senate seat that was eventually won by former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio. In that race, Crist pulled a political party switcheroni and declared himself an “independent” candidate after Tea Party voters rallied around Rubio.
In 2012, Crist switched from being an “independent” to a Demcorat and two years later ran for governor but lost to incumbent Gov. Rick Scott. He won his Congressional race two years later.
Because it’s so early in the game, very few polls have been taken on the Florida gubernatorial race. The two that are listed at 538 show mixed results, with DeSantis clearly ahead of Crist and Fried in one with the other showing a margin of error lead over Fried who, like Crist, is also a bit of a strange bird, to put it mildly.
Various polls on his approval ratings in the state in recent weeks show DeSantis in good shape with voters despite the numerous media-driven campaigns to paint him as a “grandma killer” for his approach to managing the pandemic.
If the election were held today, DeSantis would be tough to beat. And if he continues at this rate, he’ll all but be a shoo-in next year. But Florida politics being what they are, anything can happen. So buckle up, because things are about to get even more interesting in the Sunshine state.