The legislation that Gov. Charlie Crist came to Fort Lauderdale today to celebrate was about grim subjects prompted by tragedies: increasing penalties for those who attack homeless and extending the time limit for filing wrongful death suits. But the crowd in Democratic-rich Broward couldn't have been happier to see their independent governor.
Crist was warmly received by homeless activists -- "that's a great shirt!" Crist said while embracing one woman wearing a Homeless Voice t-shirt -- as well as Democratic voters and politicians. Crist singled out a handful of elected officials who pushed through the laws including Democratic legislators Jeremy Ring and Ari Porth -- both Democrats -- and Republican Sheriff Al Lamberti.
When Crist asked if Sen. Nan Rich was in the crowd (she wasn't) he said "there are no senators today" which prompted a man in the audience to shout jokingly: "There might be one!" -- a nod to Crist's U.S. Senate campaign.
As Crist schmoozed with residents after the presser, one constituent urged Crist to stick with Eric Johnson, a former chief of staff to Democratic Congressman Robert Wexler. When we asked Crist if he plans to hire Johnson he said "we'll see" with a big smile.
A Democratic activist wearing an Obama t-shirt who feared having his name in the newspaper for supporting Crist warmly greeted the governor. When asked why he was support Crist rather than Democratic Congressman Kendrick Meek, the activist said: "We liked (Meek's) mother. We like Meek -- he's been good on the issues. Broward County is the key to any race. We haven't seen Meek."