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Another troopers' group backs Crist for Senate

P1020864 Gov. Charlie Crist on Tuesday picked up the endorsement of the Florida Association of State Troopers in his Republican U.S. Senate primary battle with former House Speaker Marco Rubio. FAST, which claims to represent 1,700 "active, reserve, auxiliar and retired" troopers, joins the Police Benevolent Association and Fraternal Order of Police in backing the governor.

Crist's support for a 5-percent pay raise for troopers in the 2008 session did not go unnoticed at the news conference. FAST executive director Tommy Owens recalled that was the same bill in which Rubio tried to attach language giving a supporter, Max Alvarez, a chance to seek a vendor contract along Florida's Turnpike. (The language didn't get added).

At a Hampton Inn & Suites near I-10 in Tallahassee, a "delighted" Crist accepted the endorsement from FAST Chairman Mike Kirby. "He's always been there for us," Kirby said. Crist urged the troopers present to put a bumper sticker on their cars. "Not the state car," Crist quickly added. "Ethics matters, too." 

-- Steve Bousquet