October 20, 2015

As he runs for Congress, a look back at Charlie Crist's Truth-O-Meter record and flips

It’s official: Former Gov. Charlie Crist will run for Congress in a St. Petersburg seat in what’s expected to become a Democratic-leaning district.

"Public service is in my heart," Crist said at a recreation center surrounded by several dozen supporters at his Oct. 20 announcement.

Crist will run in the 13th congressional district, a seat being redrawn amid a contentious redistricting battle. Since it appears that the district will end up being more friendly to a Democrat, the seat’s current holder -- David Jolly -- announced in July that he will run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Marco Rubio instead.

In the Democratic primary, Crist is facing Eric Lynn, a former Obama administration official who has raised about $550,000. Former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, a Republican, is also considering a bid.

Crist was governor from 2007 to 2011, following years as a state senator, education commissioner and attorney general. He lost a bid for the U.S. Senate in 1998.

In 2010, as he was struggling in his second U.S. Senate bid and running against Rubio, Crist left the Republican Party and became an independent; he went on to lose the general election. Then, he switched parties again for the 2014 gubernatorial campaign, registering as a Democrat in what proved to be an unsuccessful bid to unseat GOP Gov. Rick Scott.

Here is our story about Crist from PolitiFact Florida.

October 17, 2015

A Marco Rubio campaign mailer in Florida -- invoking Charlie Crist



A pollster for Marco Rubio must have tested several competing campaign messages for him -- and found that his underdog 2010 U.S. Senate victory over Charlie Crist still resonates with voters.

How else to explain that as part of Rubio's first batch of 2016 presidential campaign mailers in Florida, the Republican invokes a foe from five years ago?

The Florida presidential preference primary isn't until March 15 of next year. But Rubio, who doesn't have a campaign office in his home state yet, is apparently trying to make some inroads against his likely chief rival, former Gov. Jeb Bush.

It appears Rubio's message to voters in the Tampa Bay area -- near Crist's hometown of St. Petersburg -- got a different mailer, without mention of the ex-governor.


October 13, 2015

On this date in Florida history, Donald Trump wasn't always 'bored'

Crist-trump0003Donald Trump is telling his 4.4 million Twitter followers to expect a "very boring" CNN debate among the Democratic candidates Tuesday night, with TV viewers "falling asleep" in droves.

But boy, how the Florida political winds have shifted. Remember this? On this date in Florida history -- nine years ago to the day to be exact -- Trump probably wasn't the least bit bored. On Oct. 13, 2006, he hosted a big fund-raiser at his Mar-a-Lago Club resort in Palm Beach for Charlie Crist, who at the time was cruising to victory as "the next governor of the great state of Florida."

August 05, 2015

Former Marco Rubio staffer mulling congressional run that could pit him against Charlie Crist


A former aide to U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is thinking about running for U.S. Rep. David Jolly's seat -- a race likely to draw Rubio's one-time opponent, Charlie Crist.

Ash Mason, a former Rubio special assistant in Pinellas County, told the Miami Herald he's waiting for Florida state lawmakers to redraw congressional district boundaries to make up his mind about seeking the Republican nomination. Crist, now a Democrat, is eyeing the seat because it's almost certain to become more blue.

"It seems like Charlie Crist has been scaring everyone off in that area," said Mason, Southeastern energy policy director for the Florida Christian Coalition. "As a former staffer of Rubio, it'd be interesting to knock him out altogether."

Mason, a Florida State University grad who lives in Tampa, worked for former state Rep. Will Weatherford before Weatherford became House speaker. He also worked for former state Rep. Ed Hooper and later chaired the North Carolina Christian Coalition.

Last month, Jolly announced he will run for Rubio’s seat. Jolly won his Congressional seat in a special election in 2014 but due to anticipated redistricting his seat is expected to lean more to the left in the future. Crist is poised to run as a Democrat for Jolly’s Congressional seat in Pinellas County.

In 2011, Texas Gov. Rick Perry named Mason northeast Florida field director for his presidential campaign. 

From a Perry press release at the time: “Mason is a veteran of legislative races, having worked in various capacities including Speaker Larry Cretul’s 2006 re-election campaign, and the 2008 campaigns of Speaker Pro-Temp John Legg and Rep. Rachel Burgin. He also served as a senior legislative assistant to Speaker-Designate Will Weatherford and Representative Ed Hooper. Mason is a native of the Jacksonville area and graduate of Florida State University.”

Perry’s year-end finance report filed with the Federal Election Commission in January 2013 showed he paid Mason $5,750.92.

July 20, 2015

Charlie Crist plans to run for Congress

via @learyreports

Charlie Crist is preparing to run for the U.S. House seat David Jolly is vacating to run for Senate.

Crist's action follows Republican Jolly announcing his Senate campaign this morning. It's all due to the likely redrawing of the 13th Congressional District due to the recent Florida Supreme Court decision ordering new lines in eight districts across the state.

The new district would likely be much more Democratic, forcing Jolly to leave. Crist, the former Republican turn Democrat, has a natural base in hometown Pinellas County and would bring big name ID and fundraising ability.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

April 12, 2015

Complaint filed over Charlie Crist role in Annette Taddeo emails


Charlie Crist improperly contributed to Annette Taddeo's Democratic campaign for Congress, according to a complaint a Republican filed last week with the Federal Election Commission.

The complaint, by Saul Escobar of Miami, argues that when Crist let Taddeo use an email list from last year's Florida governor's race, it amounted to an impermissible donation from a state campaign to a federal one. It also says Taddeo herself should have authorized the emails to supporters, sent after she launched her 2016 campaign last week with the disclaimer, "Paid for and approved by Charlie Crist."

Note that there's no reference to "Charlie Crist for Governor," which suggests Crist himself -- and no state campaign -- was involved in the transaction, unlike what the complaint alleges. A campaign's non-monetary assets, such as email lists, usually belong to a candidate once the race is done. In this case, that's Crist (and not Taddeo, his running mate), and he presumably could give out the list to whomever he wanted.

"These kinds of misleading partisan attacks are exactly what South Floridians hate about Washington," said Joshua Karp, a Florida Democratic Party spokesman. "As a working mom and a small business owner, Annette knows that the people of the 26th District expect and deserve better than these kinds of petty partisan attacks."

Escobar appears to be a member of the Miami Young Republicans.

However, the larger question may be whether Taddeo's campaign should have used a Crist disclaimer at all. For example, it could have assigned the email list a value and listed it as an "in-kind contribution" in its first campaign-finance report, avoiding the disclaimer confusion. In an attempt to be cautious, the Taddeo camp may have gotten more tangled than it needed to.

March 25, 2015

Charlie Crist endorses Patrick Murphy for U.S. Senate

Former Gov. Charlie Crist endorsed U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, for U.S. Senate today.

“Patrick Murphy has the energy, integrity, and work ethic we need in the United States Senate,” Crist wrote on Facebook. “I hope you'll join me in supporting his campaign.”

Crist was mentioned as a potential contender for the race for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio's seat but he decided not to jump in shortly before Murphy’s final decision to jump into the race which he announced Monday. Crist essentially gave Murphy a heads-up that he wouldn’t run (not so with DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz who also recently announced she won’t run statewide).

Crist's endorsement came as no surprise since Murphy's family and Crist are longtime friends and Murphy's chief of staff, Eric Johnson, was also a former Crist advisor. But this is Murphy's first major endorsement by a former statewide office holder. Murphy has also been endorsed by U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton.

So far, Murphy is the only major candidate to announce that he will run though he could face a challenge from the left by U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando. That would create a primary battle because Grayson is popular with progressives while Murphy has voted as a centrist while representing his right-leaning Treasure Coast district. On the Republican side, CFO Jeff Atwater and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera are strong contenders.


March 16, 2015

No, Charlie Crist isn't running for office in 2016


Charlie Crist dispelled any lingering rumors Monday that he could, maybe, possibly, potentially run for U.S. Senate in 2016.

On Facebook and then on Twitter, Crist plugged the Florida Democratic Party but said he won't be on the ballot.

In a sign of Florida Democrats' thin political bench, Crist's name had been mentioned earlier this year as someone Democrats could look at if Republican Sen. Marco Rubio chooses to run for president and not seek reelection. Crist, the Republican-turned-independent-turned Democrat former Florida governor, lost to Rubio as an independent in 2010. He then lost to Gov. Rick Scott in 2014.

The most likely Democratic candidate for now appears to be U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter, who hosted a swanky South Beach gathering for donors last weekend. He's expected to announce a run next week, regardless of Rubio's plans.

UPDATE: Here's Murphy's reaction on Twitter:

December 01, 2014

Rick Scott campaign: post-election survey shows why exit polls on Cubans, Hispanics were wrong


Though exit polls indicated Gov. Rick Scott lost Hispanics by a 20 percentage-point margin, the Republican’s campaign conducted its own post-election survey that showed he might have almost tied Democrat Charlie Crist with these voters.

Scott’s survey, conducted by OnMessage Inc., shows Scott earned 47 percent of the Hispanic vote compared to Crist’s 49 percent, unlike the exit polls that had the Democrat leading the Republican 58-38 percent. The 2010 exit polls had Scott winning 50 percent of the Hispanic vote to Democrat Alex Sink’s 48 percent.

“While an array of news articles point to a Rick Scott victory ‘despite losing ground with Hispanics,’ that’s simply not true,” wrote OnMessage’s Wes Anderson and Kayla Dunlap in a polling memo.

One potential problem with the surveys from OnMessage and Edison Research (which conducts the exit polls for media groups): Their Hispanic samples were relatively low. OnMessage’s sample was 304 and Edison’s was 367. So the error-margins of the results will vary widely. (UPDATE/aside: A few readers have pointed out it's important to note that some voters in post-election surveys have a tendency to say they backed the winner).

A third survey, conducted on the eve of the election by the premier Hispanic polling firm of Latino Decisions, had 400 Florida respondents and found Crist leading Scott 52-45 percent -- results that fall somewhere in between the OnMessage and Edison surveys.

OnMessage’s polling also took issue with Edison’s results for Cuban-American voters. It’s always a contested topic because Cubans (especially those in Miami-Dade) tend to vote Republican and are the most-reliable of Hispanic voters. Also, because Cuban-Americans are a subset of Hispanic voters, the margin of error in surveying this demographic group is even greater.

OnMessage said Scott won Cubans over Crist 65-30 percent. Edison showed Crist ahead of Scott, 50-46 percent. Unfortunately, Latino Decisions didn’t report Cuban-voter results.

So who’s right? Who knows? When the Florida voter file is finally updated next month, we can examine voting patterns of heavily Cuban-American precincts to get a better idea of how the vote broke.

My guess is OnMessage is more right on Cuban voters. It’s tough to believe that Crist, who made little outreach with Spanish-speaking voters and who called for an end to the Cuban embargo, would have attracted majority support from Cubans. Yes, it’s true that younger Cuban Americans tend to vote more Democrat or independently and aren’t as hardline about Cuba policy, but most election data indicated this was an older electorate.

Scott, meanwhile, had a Cuban-American running mate in Carlos Lopez-Cantera and the support of Miami-Dade’s Cuban-American legislative delegation. Scott got just 39 percent of Miami-Dade’s vote in 2014 and, considering 72 percent of the county’s registered Republicans are Cuban-Americans, it’s reasonable to guess that an outsized portion of the Scott vote was among Cuban Americans.

“When the Hispanic vote is broken down by county of origin, we find that Governor Scott won a sizable majority of Cuban voters as well as more Puerto Rican voters than many expected,” Anderson and Dunlap wrote. “In the end, most Hispanic voters were focused on the economy, and they decided that under Governor Scott’s leadership, the state’s real estate and job markets are headed in the right direction.”

Download Scott poll

November 25, 2014

The 2014 governor's race votes and ad spending by Florida media market


The race for Florida governor was officially certified last week, so now we have final numbers. By our estimate, more than $103 million was spent on TV ads since March. 

All told, 6,026,802 Floridians cast ballots. Of them, about 53 percent voted early in person or by absentee ballot (1,878,537 absentees + 1,309,198 early votes = 3,187,735).

More people voted in the governor's race than any other contest: 5,951,561. Scott received 2,865,343 votes to Crist's 2,801,198. That's 48.14 percent to 47.07, a margin of 1.08 percent, or 64,145.

Scott's raw-vote margin was 4.2 percent bigger than in 2010, when his margin was 61,550 over Democrat Alex Sink. On a percentage basis, though, Scott did worse than in 2010, when his win-margin was 1.2 percentage points (the overall number of people voting in the governor's race grew 11 percent since 2010).

Here's how the 2014 votes broke down by media market, along with the ad spending:

Florida votes & ad spending