The Democratic Governor’s Association is all in for Charlie Crist, cutting a single $500,000 check that showed national Democrats believe the Florida Governor’s mansion is in their reach.
The donation is the largest contribution to Crist’s political committee, Charlie Crist for Florida. And it’s one of the largest given this campaign cycle.
“It’s just one more realization that Charlie is going to be the nominee,” Bob Poe, Crist’s fundraiser, told The Miami Herald. “This is probably the first installment from the DGA. And it’s not only their blessing of Charlie. But it’s the recognition that this is real. Charlie has proven himself time and again.”
Crist is ahead in the polls, but he trails Gov. Rick Scott in fundraising.
Still, Crist has raised a noteworthy sum -- $10.9 million for his campaign and political committee – since November.
“Anyone who doesn’t think we’ll have what we need is wrong,” Poe said. “We won’t have what they have, but we’ll have what we need.”
The DGA’s rival, the Republican Governor’s Association, dropped a single $2.5 million contribution on Scott in January. Scott is also receiving and spending big, considering it's just April. He has burned about $5.4 million on ads and just announced an earlier-than-ever Spanish-language TV ad as part of a new Hispanic-outreach push.
Crist still has a primary opponent, former Weston state Sen. Nan Rich, but she has struggled to fundraise and catch fire the way Crist has, even though he was once a Republican and then an independent.
Rich wants Crist to debate. Crist has firmly said “no.”
The day after the check was cut, Crist proved he also had grassroots appeal when his campaign opened its first Broward County field office, on Saturday in Plantation, and drew an enthusiastic crowd of about 300.
The $500,000 won’t be burned on ads as much as a field program to help staff regional offices, recruit volunteers and gin up excitement.
Though far smaller than Barack Obama’s Florida campaign, Crist’s effort reflects the president’s re-elect and its staff. Crist’s top advisor, Jim Messina, was Obama’s 2012 campaign manager and Crist’s campaign manager, Omar Khan, was Obama’s national associate political director in 2012 and was deputy political director in Florida in 2008.
As Crist wrapped up his Saturday speech during the field office opening, Khan was on hand to make sure that the candidate encouraged spectators to become volunteers or stay in touch with the campaign.
“Everybody sign up. We need your emails,” Crist said.
“Anybody with a clipboard,” Khan said to Crist.
“Anybody with a clipboard,” Crist dutifully repeated into the microphone. “Everybody sign up. This is really important. Something I learned as a Democrat.”