Floridians are more than 18 months away from deciding who will inhabit the governor’s mansion in Tallahassee after 2022, but the politicking has already begun.
On Tuesday, former governor and U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist threw his hat into the ring in a bid for the Democratic nomination in the upcoming gubernatorial race. Crist is the first Democrat to announce a campaign and it remains to be seen who he could face from the left.
On the right, Crist already bared his political fangs at Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“The deck is stacked against the middle class, aided and abetted by Gov. Ron DeSantis and his Republican allies in Tallahassee. This is a governor who doesn’t listen, who doesn’t care and doesn’t think about you — unless, of course, you can write him a campaign check,” Crist said.
Crist was critical of DeSantis’ handling of the coronavirus pandemic, saying the governor listened to “quacks and conspiracy theorists.” He also took aim at DeSantis’ anti-rioting legislation and the bill that passed the legislature putting new limits on voting in Florida.
On Tuesday afternoon, DeSantis took aim at Crist, though he did not address the Democrat’s criticisms directly.
“You know, people said Charlie Crist and I was just asking myself, ‘What party is he gonna run in this time?’” DeSantis said.
Crist was the 44th governor of Florida as a Republican from 2007 to 2011 but decided not to seek a second term, instead running in 2010 for a U.S. Senate seat, which saw him become an independent. He lost that race to Sen. Marco Rubio. In 2014, Crist ran for governor as a Democrat but lost Rick Scott.
“I look at his voting record in the Congress, he has voted this Congress with Nancy Pelosi 100% of the time, so he probably could give it a run and be credible with the Green Party even, so who knows,” DeSantis said. “Look, anytime there’s an open office somewhere, you can bet someone like Crist is probably going to be slithering around for it, so that’s fine.”
There is speculation that Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and U.S. Rep. Val Demings may also consider making a bid for the governor’s seat on a Democratic ticket, but neither has announced their intentions.
Floridians will cast their vote for governor on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.