Democrats turn to Charlie Crist to try to slow down Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ahead of 2024

For the second time in eight years, Democratic voters will choose Charlie Crist as their candidate for governor. CNN projectsChoosing a seasoned veteran over the Commissioner of Agriculture Nicky is fried, the state’s first woman running for governor. Crist now has just 11 weeks to unify his party, energize the Democratic base and convince independent voters that the state needs a new direction.
The stakes are high for Democrats, not just in Florida, where DeSantis has already pushed an aggressively conservative agenda and promised to bring more restraint to a second term. Abortion And fewer guns. There are also National Democrats Looking for Christ to slow down DeSantisHe is one of the most recognizable figures in the Republican Party ahead of his expected campaign for the White House in 2024.

“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.”

The task will not be easy. There is DeSantis It raised $132 million That’s a record amount for a gubernatorial candidate with no self-funding for the fall general election, and he’s animated the Republican base more than any other no-name GOP politician. Donald Trump. His party has surpassed Democrats in registered voters in Florida for the first time. And he says the state’s economy is booming, with more people visiting the state than anywhere in the country, record tourism numbers and an unemployment rate of 2.7% — nearly a full point below the federal level.
But Democrats argued that the prosperity was not shared by all. With some of the fastest-rising home prices and rents in the country, Florida has become an unaffordable paradise for many. As hurricane season reaches its peak, the property insurance crisis has threatened coverage for millions of homeowners. LGBTQ Floridians They say the DeSantis administration has turned the government against them, something some women say is new Restrictions on Abortion Depriving them of choice over their bodies can force them to face medically dangerous pregnancies.

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.

to Christ, 66, Tuesday win Another chapter in a very unusual life in American politics.

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.

Many expected Christ’s career to end in Congress. Instead, last May, he Jumped into the race For the governor — the ban was seen by many Democratic officials and activists in Florida at the time as a relic of the past for a party that needed to look forward. Fried, 44, who had only one previous campaign under his belt, leant in comparison to Christ and campaigned on the phrase “something new.”

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.

US Supreme Court ruling strikes down A constitutional right to abortion offered a kind of reset for Fried. She tried to reframe the race to protect abortion access, and Kristal, who once called herself “pro-life,” suggested she couldn’t take that fight to DeSantis.

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.

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