Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist brought his “voting rights” tour to Tallahassee, Fla., last week, meeting at the local headquarters of the NAACP amid federal court challenges to a contentious elections bill signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Crist, who was a Republican more than a decade ago when he lived nearby in the governor’s mansion, didn’t mention Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, his opponent in the 2022 Democratic gubernatorial primary.
Crist tried to paint the 2022 contest as one in which DeSantis is using Florida to set up a 2024 White House run while Crist, now St. Petersburg Democrat, is all about Florida.
“I feel for your suffering and your frustration, and the fact that this stuff is not being addressed,” Crist, who has served in the U.S. House since getting elected in 2016, said of voting rights for minorities. “[DeSantis] is signing bills that appeal to the Republican right nationally, not to our fellow Floridians today. I know why he's running for president. I mean I see what's going on, and it breaks my heart. Florida is not a steppingstone. This is a special place. And we deserve to have people, whether they're in the state House, or the state Senate, or the city council, or your mayor, or your government, be dedicated to Florida first, doing what's right for our state, standing up for our rights.”
Crist himself exited the governor’s office after one term, losing an independent bid for the U.S. Senate in 2010. He told reporters last Wednesday he’ll have the money to compete next year.
“You know, instead of going to San Diego and the Northeast and wherever [DeSantis is] going for his presidential run or whatever it is he's doing, I'm here in Leon County,” Crist said. “I was in Alachua County this morning. Later, I'm going to be in Palm Beach County. You go to the people. You travel the state. You look them in the eye. You tell them what you want to do and listen to what they want and what they need.”