Rep. Charlie Crist wins gubernatorial nomination to face Governor Ron DeSantis

Rep. Charlie Crist wins gubernatorial nomination
Posted at 10:28 AM, Aug 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-24 10:28:20-04

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Representative Charlie Crist has officially won the gubernatorial nomination and will face off against Gov. Ron DeSantis in November, beating fellow Democratic candidate Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.

Crist has been seeking to return to the governor's mansion for the first time since he served a single term from 2007-2011.

He spent most of 2022 trying to convince voters he was the best candidate to try to beat Governor DeSantis, who has been at or above 50% job approval for much of his tenure.

Much of the question in the campaign has been who can attract disillusioned Republican voters and moderates from both parties.

Crist supporters believe the 66-year-old former governor has the ability to cross the increasingly vicious party line to work with Republicans. But Crist still faces long odds when it comes to a statewide race against DeSantis.

Florida, which used to be the swing state in presidential elections, has, over the past several elections, tilted to the Republican Party.

Republicans control a majority in the state legislature, have consistently won the governor's office the last three times and control the state Supreme Court. Plus, even in a year when President Joe Biden won Georgia, Florida was solidly behind Republican President Donald Trump.

Crist's first job in office came in 1992 when he was elected to the Florida Senate. He later served as Florida's Education Commissioner, Attorney General, Governor, and his current job, Congressional Representative.

Still, one area that some Democrats believe could be exploited by the DeSantis campaign is Crist's shift from the Republican party to the Democratic party.

Crist won his 2006 gubernatorial election as a Republican, but by the time the 2010 election rolled around, Crist began his move to the political left. In 2009, Crist chose not to run for re-election as Republican support began to shrink.

Crist first ran for Senate as an unaffiliated candidate but came up short against Senator Marco Rubio. He became a Democrat in 2012 and later ran against Rick Scott for governor, but lost the 2014 election.

As a candidate, Crist is one of the only people to ever lose statewide races as a Republican, Democrat and unaffiliated candidate/nominee. If he topples DeSantis in November, he'd be one of the only candidates to win a governor's race as a Republican and Democrat.

Crist will now face DeSantis and his almost unprecedented war chest. DeSantis has raised more than $100 million for his re-election, and some are eyeing him as the GOP nominee for president in 2024.

However, a loss to either Crist could derail DeSantis' possible pursuit of higher office.

That will be the challenge for Crist, beating a governor with record funding and one eye possibly on the top office in the land.

After Crist's victory, the Democratic Governor's Association and Republican Governor's Association released statements:

“Congratulations to Congressman Charlie Crist on his victory in the Florida Democratic gubernatorial primary. Under Ron DeSantis, Florida has become a GOP battleground for culture wars and attacks on American freedoms.  But where DeSantis divides, Charlie will unite. 

We know Charlie is a fighter who will bring respect and decency back to Florida while taking on the special interests to lower costs, protect reproductive freedom, and create more opportunity for everyone.

Charlie Crist’s leadership is what working families in Florida need right now, and the DGA is proud to support him in the fight ahead.”
“Ron DeSantis has been a champion for freedom and has fought to grow Florida’s economy, give parents a say in their child’s education, and protect the rights of workers and small businesses,” said RGA Executive Director Dave Rexrode. “Charlie Crist has stood in lockstep with Joe Biden as he played nice with dictators in Cuba and Venezuela and his failed economic policies raised taxes and increased the cost of living across every sector of the economy. We’re confident he’ll be rejected for a third time this November, and we look forward to Governor DeSantis’ decisive re-election.”