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Charlie Crist's campaign, donors look like extension of Obama for Florida


Charlie Crist’s career as a Republican was ruined four years ago after he hugged President Barack Obama onstage; now he says it could be his salvation as a Democrat.

Running again for his old post with a new party affiliation, Crist is being embraced by another aspect of the president: former Florida campaign workers for Obama, who has twice carried the Sunshine State.

At least seven former Obama Florida campaign workers — from his pollster to a top political consultant to media experts to his fundraiser — now form the nucleus of Crist’s new campaign team.

And top Obama donors, pleased with Crist’s help on the campaign in 2012, are expected to follow.

“I’ve always liked Charlie Crist, even when he was a Republican,” said Ralph Patino, a Coral Gables lawyer who helped the Obama campaign’s Futuro Fund raise $30 million last year for Hispanic outreach.

Patino, who hosted a Friday Democratic National Committee fundraiser headlined by Obama, invited Crist the day before when the governor stopped by and asked for his support.

“The Obama world has an interest in Crist — they had him speak at the Democratic National Convention,” Patino said. “That showed me, even back then, that they had an interest in Charlie Crist.”

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