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Will Souls to the Polls be a boom or bust for Charlie Crist?

@MarcACaputo et al

Sunday was for spiritual as well as political salvation, a day in Florida politics for “Souls to the Polls.”

The last day for in-person early voting, Sunday is a time when black voters have flexed their political muscle and cast ballots in droves after church. The lift was heavy Sunday: help the Democratic Party — and especially Charlie Crist — eat into Republicans’ 126,000 lead in casting pre-Election Day ballots.

In a nod to black voters’ importance, Crist campaigned with Vice President Joe Biden at Mount Hermon AME Church in Fort Lauderdale. Pastors throughout Tampa Bay urged the faithful to go vote. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton respectively stumped in Jacksonville and Miami.

Miami-Dade saw nearly 16,500 voters Sunday, a 53 percent increase from Saturday. And Broward’s increase in a day was larger still: 60 percent, to 19,802.

Republicans, unlike in past years, were determined not to let Democrats run up the score on Sunday. Gov. Rick Scott visited First Baptist Church Piney Grove in Lauderdale Lakes. Scott then rallied with Jeb Bush in Miami-Dade’s heavily Hispanic Republican city of Hialeah.

“Charlie Crist has gotta go,” Bush said to wild applause, joking a moment later that “my mother didn’t want me to say that.” Bush later told reporters that Scott has “kept his word. His opponent is someone who will say anything, do anything to get elected.”

Crist, at least on Sunday, was going everywhere in South Florida — from Miami to Fort Lauderdale and then back to a crowded early voting site in North Miami where people waited for more than an hour after the 4 p.m. closing time to cast ballots. This is his sixth statewide campaign, his first bid for a second term as governor under a new political party banner.

Earlier in the day, the Crist campaign played up Broward County Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes’ inquiry of the state concerning whether she could keep early voting polls open later than 4 p.m. The state said she couldn’t.

Crist and Biden pointed to the contrast with Scott, who refused to extend early voting hours in 2012, when lines were long. Crist as governor in 2008 extended early voting hours.

“You can early vote up until 4 o’clock,” Crist said at a Fort Lauderdale rally with Biden. “I heard some tried to make it a little longer but you know how things go sometimes in Florida. ... I’m on your side and Rick’s not.”

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