Charlie Crist has ignored his Democratic opponent for nearly a year, and now voters will decide the soundness of his strategy Tuesday in the party’s primary race for governor.
Crist is expected to roll up a big double-digit victory over Nan Rich, a former state Senate Democratic leader whose lack of name identification was matched by her inability to mount an effective campaign that excited voters or garnered media attention.
Crist refused to debate Rich, focusing instead on Republican Gov. Rick Scott and inflaming Rich and her supporters in the process.
But voters don’t seem to be holding it against Crist, even in Rich’s home county of Broward, where Crist opened a regional headquarters, rented a beachfront apartment and will gather with supporters Tuesday night rather than in his usual place, his hometown of St. Petersburg.
“I like Nan Rich, but I voted for Charlie Crist because he has the best chance of beating Rick Scott,” said Richard Maisel, 76, who lives in Rich’s Weston-based precinct. Maisel said his wife, Janice, also voted for Crist when they cast their ballots at a Broward early-voting site.
Closest to home, Rich has not stirred much enthusiasm. Of the 1,300 registered Democrats in Rich’s precinct, only 59 have cast early and absentee ballots, a sign of low overall turnout in this Democrat-rich county.
Even if there’s a small Democratic turnout Tuesday across Florida, Crist said, he isn’t worried that it wouldn’t indicate the base of the party wasn’t ready to vote for him in the general election.
“The base is excited,” Crist said. “And the base is excited because of Rick Scott. He’s a four-year disaster.”