With state-sanctioned hate spewing from every corner of the Republican-controlled legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis, Florida’s LGBT community is looking to send as many allies as it can to Tallahassee.
One of them is Charlie Crist.
The former governor and congressman came to Equality Florida’s Wilton Manors headquarters on Sept. 14 to accept the endorsements from a coalition of LGBT-supporting PACs. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) PAC, Equality Florida Action PAC, SAVE Action PAC, and the Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus all officially embraced the man trying to unseat DeSantis in the November election.
“I’m honored to be here. I can’t tell you how pleased this makes me,” Crist told supporters who packed the office.
He quickly focused the group on priority number one: defeating the incumbent governor.
“Ron DeSantis is a nightmare. You all know that. Florida knows that. Folks here today are leaders of our community, state, and nation who have been on the frontlines in our fight for equality for years.”
Afterward, SFGN asked how he planned to leverage these endorsements to maximize voter turnout. His answer was very vague.
“We’ll advertise, go door-to-door, do everything we can everywhere.”
After several weeks, the campaign is going back on television with ads. Usually that hurts a candidate, but he said he’s seen the gap close in that time and attributes it to people realizing they don’t like DeSantis.
Not the First Choice
Crist was governor as a Republican from 2007-2011 then a congressman from a Tampa/St. Petersburg district as a Democrat from 2017-2022 (he resigned his seat last month to focus on his campaign). If he is to win the election, he has to overcome voter apathy and distrust. Incredibly low turnout in the primary could be an indicator of a lack of enthusiasm. Also, some say switching parties is more political opportunism than a change of values.
At their meeting in July, Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus voters were strongly in favor of Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried being the nominee by a nearly 2-1 margin. Now their president, Stephen Gaskill, said it’s all water under the bridge.
“I think regardless of who won that primary, we would be organized and mobilize behind them. The party has chosen and we’re all uniting around Charlie Crist.”
Early voting runs Monday, October 24-Sunday, November 6, with regular voting on Tuesday, November 8.