Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., is weighing another run at governor, but Democrats are skeptical he can energize the left in the state against popular Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla.
"I don’t think he excites the part of the base that we need to propel a statewide campaign," Democratic National Committee's Thomas Kennedy, a newly elected member from Florida, told Politico. "I don't think a former Republican governor — who has lost statewide before and, quite frankly, hasn't been at the forefront of the battles that have roiled this county in the last four years — is going to be able to take on what’s going to be a really tough race against Ron DeSantis."
Crist was Florida's governor from 2007-2011 as a Republican before endorsing former President Barack Obama and leaving to become an independent after he left office. Crist lost the 2014 gubernatorial race to now Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla.
"We still only lost by one point in a massive election where millions of votes were cast," Crist told Politico. "It's not the most discouraging conclusion. Look if I had lost by 10 or 20 points then — 'Peace. Out. You are done with this venture.'"
Now a Democrat, he will sell himself as a moderate who can pull in some GOP support.
"I got two words: Joe Biden," Crist told Politico. "Look at what happened in our last election."
Crist has reached out to Broward Mayor Steve Geller, but he cautions a Democrat primary with Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried might split the moderate vote and open the door for a progressive candidate that would face a struggle against DeSantis in a leaning red state of Florida.
"I like Nikki," Geller told Politico. "If Charlie is not running, I could easily support her. But I think Charlie's a stronger candidate because he has run for governor before."
Kira Willig, a Democrat delegate for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in 2016 and 2020 declared it is time for Florida Democrats to move away from Crist.
"I don't know what vision he represents," Willig told Politico. "He is from the era that some Democrats still cling to where we think Republicans will vote for a Republican-lite on the ticket. He already lost to Rick Scott and didn't bring out the coalition of voters he needed."
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