“This guy wants to be president of the United States,” Crist said in his victory speech. “However, when we beat him on November 8, the show was over.”
Christine’s argument against another four-year term for DeSantis also plays on Floridians longing for a less divisive tone from its leader. Throughout the Democratic primary, Crist and Fried portrayed DeSantis as a bully and dictator who was more focused on positioning himself to run for the White House than on managing the nation’s third-largest state. Time and again, DeSantis has removed checks on his executive power and forced other branches of state government to bend to his will.
Earlier on Tuesday, DeSantis predicted he would face Crist in the general election. During a news conference in Tallahassee, he dismissed Crist as “a guy who’s been running for office for five decades, votes with (Joe) Biden 100% of the time,” and made it clear he wants to shape the race in his controversial way. Response to the Corona virus infection.
“I’ve opposed every decision I’ve made to keep this state open, to keep people’s rights, to respect their rights, to save jobs, to keep kids in school, to save businesses,” Crist said.
At his St. Petersburg watch party, Christ didn’t have to wait long for the good news. By the time his campaign welcomed supporters into the Hilton conference room after polls closed at 7 p.m., early polls suggested it would be a drama-free night. The crowd cheered as a big screen showed a hugely promising start to Christ’s number.
A repeat of the Biden playbook?
In electing Crist, Democrats are betting on a well-known and passive candidate, giving them a better chance of unseating a divisive but dynamic Republican incumbent. It’s an almost identical playbook to the one used successfully by Biden to defeat Trump in 2020.
“I know him. I’ve met him. I trust him,” Darla Price, a retiree from St. Petersburg, told CNN after the vote.
However, the Biden blueprint hasn’t worked specifically in Florida. Trump won the state by a larger margin in 2020 than he did in 2016. Crist has not won a statewide general election in Florida in 16 years, though he has tried several times.
After decades as a Republican — serving as a state legislator, education commissioner, attorney general and reaching the governor’s office in 2007 — Crist lost his party’s favor for the cardinal sin of embracing Democratic President Barack Obama. He was defeated by Marco Rubio in the 2010 Republican Senate race, then lost the general election as an independent.
But four years later he ran again as the Democratic candidate against his successor, then-Gov. Rick Scott. Crist fell 64,000 votes short of regaining his old job. In 2016, he turned his attention to the House of Representatives and was elected as a three-term Democrat to represent his home state of Pinellas County.
But as Fried struggled to make his candidacy, Christine’s campaign gained traction. She built a coalition of supporters across the state and across factions of the party: unions, environmental groups, black faith leaders, prominent women leaders and elected officials of all stripes. State Rep. Anna Escamani, who initially rejected Crist, and state Sen. Prominent Democratic lawmakers like Shevrin Jones supported him over Fried.
Most primary voters were ultimately unconvinced.
Shortly after polls in the Florida Panhandle closed at 8 p.m., Fried told supporters in Fort Lauderdale that he called Crist to congratulate him on winning the nomination. He was adamant that this was not the end of his time on the Florida political stage.
“Nobody broke the glass ceiling on the first pitch,” Fried said.