By Jodi Yonder
TALLAHASSEE, –Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist is taking nothing for granted in his campaign to unseat Governor Ron DeSantis. While Crist visits Florida’s diverse small towns and big cities, the abrasive DeSantis has yet to hold a meeting with any constituency or hear their concerns. Crist on the other hand plays to his greatest strength: engagement.
Praised for campaign prowess, Crist enjoys talking to people and embraces helping them. Another asset is his extensive record that addresses issues that continue to confront Floridians every day. And he has policy for affordable housing, education, criminal justice “I work for you,” is what he often says to people he meets on the trail. The advantage of being a public servant for a long time adds to the need for experienced leadership following the horrors of Donald Trump, particularly for people of color and Blacks in particular. DeSantis, a disciple of Trump, mimics cruel indifference and racial profiling state and federal judges declare as “targeting of Blacks.
In Tallahassee Crist met with the Men’s Breakfast Club led by Leon County Commission Chairman Bill Proctor. The issues of voter suppression, gerrymandering and state buildings off the tax rolls were discussed. “We’re losing millions of tax dollars because of all the exemptions for state buildings,” Proctor says. Crist pledged his help. He’s fought for all those issues and successfully on voting rights by extending voting hours by executive order. He was punished and criticized for taking federal funds President Barak Obama distributed to Florida when he was governor.” President Obama was doing what was best for Florida and I supported that,” Crist said.
Crist started as a state senator representing Pinellas County. From there he became the education commissioner was elected statewide as attorney general, then governor and now is a member of Congress. While most elected officials hold 2 or 3 different offices, Crist has held 5 and produced a record that impacts people of color when few would step out on those issues. The restoration of civil rights which granted 155,000 nonviolent felons the right to vote was a huge advance that Governor Rick Scott ,now a US Senator reversed his first day in office.
Crist returned to Gadsden and Jefferson Counties, places in rural North Florida rarely visited by gubernatorial candidates, least of all Ron DeSantis. For Charlie Crist it was another listening tour to stay in touch.