Charlie Crist Continues To Court Democrats

For a man without a party, former Governor Charlie Crist is certainly in demand these days among Democrats. Crist was campaigning yesterday for former Florida Senate Minority Leader Al Lawson, who is locked in a four way Democratic Primary battle for the right to challenge freshman Republican Steve Southerland (R-Panama City) in Congressional District 2’s general election.  Crist had previously donated twice to Patrick Erin Murphy’s Congressional campaign when the Democrat was locked in a primary against Lois Frankel in Congressional District 22. Murphy has since chosen to move his candidacy to the 18th Congressional District in order to continue his challenge to GOP Freshman Allen West (R-Plantation). Murphy is perceived as close to allies of former Democratic Congressman Robert Wexler, who has a long-standing relationship with Crist.

The presence of Crist in public supporting Democrats taking on somewhat vulnerable Freshmen Republicans should not shock anybody. Political scuttlebutt is that Crist is aggressively courting Democratic elected officials and activists to feel out a potential return to electoral politics in 2014 as a Democrat.  Since the Democrats have failed to develop a statewide farm team over the past decade, many Democrats are desperate for Crist to join the party. With bridges permanently burned in the GOP among activists and most elected officials (Senator Mike Fasano and Representative Peter Nehr not withstanding) a man who has run statewide five times (winning three of those races) has no political home. The elements for a shotgun marriage appear to be in place.

With the Democrats suffering from a lack of a cohesive message over many years, perhaps Crist can help define an ideology.  For the better part of 15 years a Democratic Party that in Florida lacks any coherent message or policy vision other than attacking Republican officeholders and in some cases trying to distance themselves from National Democrats. But with Rod Smith as the FDP Chairman the messaging is improving, party discipline is increasing, and many of our elected officials are getting less selfish. The weakness of the FDP and most local DEC’s promoted a free-for-all among elected officials to accrue influence and in many cases to cut deals with local or Tallahassee-based Republicans.

No question exists that Crist is gaining traction in the Democratic Party. It is also fairly obvious that had Crist made a definitive break with the GOP earlier in his Gubernatorial term, he may right now be in the catbirds seat and in control of the state party apparatus. But Crist’s initial instinct to move right to counter Marco Rubio in the GOP Senate Primary (after Crist began his term in 2007 as populist/liberal Republican), cut off any realistic possibility of him being the Democratic nominee for Senate in 2010 despite the efforts of the Obama Administration and a few southeast Florida based elected officials who intervened.

Now, with Smith a strong party chair and with the respect of most elected officials(Smith is perhaps the strongest FDP chair since Charlie Whitehead) Crist faces an uphill fight to ensure a bloodless process by which he becomes the 2014 nominee for Governor. It is entirely possible Crist can run as a Democrat in the 2016 US Senate race (presumably vs Marco Rubio but there are two national elections between now and then where Rubio could very conceivably be on the GOP ticket) and avoid any sort of serious primary election. But Crist, knowing he must accumulate favors within the Democratic Party, is actively campaigning and contributing to campaigns, hoping that he can create his own statewide network of Democratic officials outside of the state party apparatus.

Still, a Crist nomination would certainly help the Democrats try and buck an embarrassing trend. Since 1998  the GOP has won 13 of 14 statewide offices and approximately 65% of contested Legislative elections, despite the Democrats having held a significant statewide registration advantage during the entire period. This record of statewide futility is comparable with rock-ribbed GOP states such as Utah and Idaho, and actually worse than Democratic performance in states like Kansas, Montana and Wyoming.

Charlie Crist certainly is courting a potential marriage partner. The question is how willing or desperate is the potential partner.


72 thoughts on “Charlie Crist Continues To Court Democrats”

  1. I find it quite odd that Crist would have been helping Murphy in a primary against Frankel.

    Why? Makes zero sense to me.

  2. Hey Stan…who a chance lol. Your an idiot the guy is not with the Democrats. Look at his record;

    1) Voted for Chain Gangs: Great for who?
    2) Honored hammer and supported the Stand Your Grand Law:
    Great for who?
    3) Gay and hiding it? Great for who?
    4) Against public insurance health options. Great for who?
    5) Against Planned Parenthood and veto the ultrasound because he made deals with the Dems
    6) Got 0% from Planned Parenthood in 2010 when the Ds screwed themselves and all the women.
    7) Co-sponored legislation time and again on charter schools
    8) Supported gun laws and capital punishment
    9) Screwed up last weeks election with his machines and Wexler
    10) Screw them both!

    WAKE UP!

    The list goes on and he is being investigate for his role in the Republican scandel with

  3. CharLIE

    The GOP will devour him with all his flips and flops. They can do the same to Rod Smith quite honestly.

    Time for new blood.


    Do not forget about how he wanted to stip hard working lawyers of their earned fees on the tobacco settlement by hauling them in front of his committee and deposing them. Once a hack, always a hack.

  5. Do you want to win elections Mandy?

    Chaingangs are so 1990s
    What election did he screw up? He is not the palm beach supervisor of elections
    He supported catastrophic insurance reform and some firms of tax reform a d has always been pro choice.
    Regarding guns I agree but that’s not a total disqualifier. Ask rod smith about gins, death penalty etc sometime. You will find his views are exactly the same and he can’t win statewide / crist already has many times!

  6. Crist works with many Ds well. Rob Wexler has been close with him for years . Murphy is a future star and at the direction of Wexler’s allies he wisely gave Crist $ in 2010. Wexler always had smart pols around him in Wendy Lipsich and Eric Johnson. They advised him well and are now grooming Murphy and Ted Deutch for similar leadership.

    As for Lawson, as leader he helped Crist when the GOP abandoned him. Lawson is sharp and will crush Southerland in November.

  7. Wexler was very outspoken in making sure every vote is counted. Unlike the current republicans who have used various means to disenfranchise voters, he worked with Crist to create good machines and a paper trail.

  8. Deutch is just not that impressive but Murphy could be a real leader. Palm Beach could use more if that kid and less of Dave Aronberg who ought to swap with Crist and run as a Republican in the future.

    I’ll trade Aronberg for Crist.

  9. Charlie Crist is no more fit to be Governor than the embezzler currently in the office. Democrats (& I’m one) can put up almost anyone and win this office without a fight, if we nominate Charlie we will make a contest out of this race. Sink is a disgrace also. Keep her away.

  10. Wexler and Crist purchased the machines that didn’t count the vote in the Wellington race. Wexler is a disgrace to this state. Obama will get re-elected without Crist. If they bring Crist back…then they are all going down. Who is Wendy? Is that the red head that is in her 50s? She is nice but I feel bad for her. She doesn’t know that they are all using her and she will go down with Crist. Deutch is also using her because that why he can play dumb when Wexler, Wendy and Eric go down.

  11. Mandy,

    Wexler did not purchase any machines. Kurt Browning recommended them. Wexler is very popular even if north Florida conservatives consider him a disgrace.

    Wendi is Deutch’s District Director after serving in the same role for Wexler. She is very popular among the condo crowd and is as friendly and pretty as can be! I think she is in her 30s.

    Eric Johnson is the premier strategist in south Florida. He is the winningest and most respected Democratic operative in the state by many accounts.

    With all of this plus Ari Porth and Skip Campbell Crist has an unbeatable south Florida team. Crist is without question the favorite for the nomination.

  12. Wexler made sure that most votes were not counted lol. Remember 2008. Obama is doing good though but Wexler is wrong. Wexler is so embarrassing…all he did was scream. Murphy is nice but has no chance. Deutch is just like Robert I think. Wendy works for Robert or Deutch now? Or both? Isn’t she doing the Crist campaign again?

  13. Eric Johnson is the premier strategist in south Florida. He is the winningest and most respected Democratic operative in the state by many accounts

    I read this site and never comment but this one is just so far from reality I could not let it go.


    Eric Johnson once ran for Palm Beach County School Board as a Christian Coalition supported Republican


    The guy was the Chief of Staff for Wexler while double dipping as a consultant, interfering in races in SE Florida while palming his legislative work off on others

    Eric Johnson has worked to elect Republicans with his allies in South Florida and has also taken a dive in races in concert with Robert Wexler’s GOP allies which include Charlie Crist

    Eric Johnson is NOT well respected by most. Wexler himself was inept as a member of congress. Deutch totally worthless, a slave to the same group.

    Wendi Lipsich? I like her, she is a good Democrat and she probably should have run for the seat instead of Deutch. But she is probably too liberal for a crowd that constantly double dips with Republicans.

  14. Deutch does not scream like Wexler! He is much more refined but equally worthless. Both are embarrasments quite frankly.

    Tools of cronyism run amok and a political machine that depends on the perception of strength, not real strength.

  15. Wendy could never run for a seat. She would have to know legislatoin and she does not even speak in public for Wexler or Deutch. She just works with Eric and organizes the luncheons and stuff. She should run for AG and clean up her crowd.

  16. Stan,

    Wendy is 54 because she is almost ready for Medicare and that is why the seniors love her. She started working for Wexler at 30. That was like 15 -20 years ago or something. She is pretty as can be because she and I go to the same surgeon in Boca. Dr. Manning. She is great though. If you want the number of the surgeon let me know. He is in Boca.

  17. Wexler is a good liberal democrat as is Wendi who has been elected a DNC delegate three times. If Crist is good enough for them he should be good enough for any Democrat.

    Run Charlie Run!

  18. Eric Johnson ran Jeff Greene in order to weaken Meek for Crist it is alleged.

    Is this true? If so, it shows the agenda of Wexler, et. al

  19. This whole thread shows how divisive Wexler and his staff are and probably explains his congressional resignation.

  20. Wexler ruined this party and this country. Talk to the voters and you will see. Why do think Wendy has to pretend to be nice all the time. She probably is dirty too and hiding it with Eric.

  21. Barbara Miller

    Who are the choices for Governor? I would love to see a list with comments about why or why not.

    How about Nan Rich for Governor? Jack Seiler?

    The party needs to move to where the votes are.

  22. All of this discussion about Wexler is interesting. I do like Seiler, Rich or how about Gelber? The obsession with nominating moderates from other parts of the state has depressed south Florida enthusiasm and turnout. The state party never thinks about this.

  23. Rich and Sieler both excellent suggestions. But seeing that Wexler and his PBC crew have already thrown in with CharLIE it is going to be tough for a south Florida based candidate to emerge with a complete regional base. Palm Beach is already with Crist.

  24. Crist was without question a better governor for progeessives than either Bush or Scott. That is beyond dispute.

    Mandy’s points are well taken but you have to think that if Wexler, a self described ” Fire Breathing Liberal” is behind Crist that he must have a good reason. Crist almost certainly will govern from the left and give the republican legislature fits if he returns to office as a Democrat.

    Democrats do not have what it takes to win major statewide elections. This has been proven without any reasonable doubt in the last several cycles. Don’t you think it is time to try something new?

    Gay and hiding too should mean nothing to anyone. Who cares if he is gay? Us Democrats should lead the way on this and NEVER even mention it.

  25. Yes Wexler insisted on a paper trail for voters and was very very outspoken when some lobbyists mascarading as Democrats in alliance with Democratic officials they were close with pushed voting machines which had no paper trail, no record of votes and could be easily manipulated by Republicans who manufactured the machines.

  26. I think Wendi Lispich is probably the best district aide I’ve comes across. Professional, caring about constituents and issues, I am a big fan of hers. I’m not sure how to explain all the vile hatred here.

  27. Nan Rich’s voting record is much more objectionable than Robert Wexler’s. She voted for Stand Your Ground, didn’t she? For all the Wexler bashing here, he’s always been a great liberal.

  28. Wexler is not as liberal as he claims and has a long record of co habitation with Republicans in Boca and Palm Beach while fighting Republicans in DC. Same for Alcee Hastings. Same previously for Stacy Ritter. South Florida Dems are arrogant enough to think by throwing bombs in DC people won’t notice all their questionable alliances at home. Deutch is employing the same network of friends. I hope Lois Frankel is different.

  29. Wexler is just embarrassing. From Daily, Colbert Report, the current voting machine in Florida, bring Irv back and his chief of staff working on tax paying time….the guy is scum..ask his family.

  30. Deutch is a non entity in state Democratic circles. He is a good vote but little more or less.

  31. Remember, when saying that “any Democrat can win this seat” because they would be running against Scott, the is not likely the case.

    More than likely Scott will have opposition in the primary and lose it. My worry is that whoever wins the GOP primary will then win the general election.

    Here is the best way that I put it…the Democratic Party in Florida is both leaderless and lacking a soul. That is what we need to find. And while Charlie Crist might not be our ideal choice, he might be a quick fix for now.

    Still, the lack of any type of “farm” system, as Kartik put it, is our problem. The GOP grooms their youngsters in the Federation of Young Republicans to become future candidates. The Democrats use the Young Democrats as door knockers and cold callers. No wonder former members of the FYRs are in elected office while YDs say “screw politics” after being used so many time. We are totally wasting both our youthful members and the Young Democrats….totally wasting it!!!!

  32. Robert Wexler ‘s voting record and commitment to the Democratic Party cannot be questioned. He is the top dawg as far defending the rights of voters to have their votes counted, and to advocate for liberal causes and the cause of peace in the middle east.

    The bitter & slanderous claims by former staffers or others who sought jobs with the congressman and his succesor are disgusting.Congressman Wexler and other political and advocatee allies should not be allowed to detract from the message thatof democratic success and future victories by this small group of fearmongerers.

    We have built a bench of Democrats that will keep south Florida blue and pose statewide trouble for the GOP. Patrick Murphy is but one of these leaders, but also Joe Abruzzo, Dave Aronberg, Mac Bernard, Adam Frankel and many more will turn Florida blue.

    Charlie Crist agrees that the extremeist Republicans that have taken over this state must be stopped and together we can defeat them.

    Do not let a few bad apples destroy the oarty for the rest of us.

  33. Not true. Greene ran on his own with some support from Palm Beach. Eric was working with Charlie Crist from early on in his independent campaign.

    He never worked for Greene.

  34. It is obvious who this person is to anyone who knows the local scene but instead of giving attention to an attention WHORE I’ll allow you to remain “Susan” or whatever other oen names you use.

  35. Eric Johnson worked for Crist when he was running as a Republican. I am pretty sure of it.

    That means Wexler was supporting Crist when he was still a Republican.

    Not a good Democrat people!

  36. Think tank. Lol Wexler was popular in the community but never respected on policy in DC. I work there now don’t kid yourself morning glory over there

  37. He resigned because he was about to be indicted. Part of the deal was his resignation and having DH take the fall.

  38. I think people would respect Wexler more if he didn’t hire a chief of staff that did zero policy and kept tuning people out who didn’t do his politics.

    Wexler himself is fine but Johnson wasn’t.

  39. Forever Fighting

    Wexler has caused so many problems locally it’s pathetic. Part of the problem is always trying to promote Eric’s business. I like Wendi and the best decision Deutch made was keeping her but he should dump Eric.

  40. All of these comments are silly. Eric is an independent contractor who previously worked for Wexler but his actions and work are not approved or solicited by the Congressman.

    I do not know why this is such an issue.

  41. The obvious drift from this thread is that Wexler, his staff and operatives are divisive.

    The association they have with Crist makes for interesting viewing. Nothing is a slam dunk.

  42. Seriously folks, Robert Wexler has always been a screaming moron and used his staff to settle political scores in his district. Ted Deutch is weak, but this does not mean people need to slander his staff. I see no reason for Wendi Lispcih, professional staffer who has been a DNC rep to be attacked in a blog about disloyal Democrats.

    Regarding Crist, he neds to just go away. Far away. He won’t win a Democratic primary. I guarentee it. Wexler, Skip Campbell, Bob Butterworth and the others involved in moving him into our column need to be hekd accountable

  43. For every vote that Crist loses in south Florida by being a Democrat, he gains one in Central Florida.

  44. Dave…we see how well that worked out in 2010. You can’t be that bad at Math. Seriously, if this guy runs under a D. The entire party goes down with him minus Obama. Crist changes more than a bipolar’s mood ring.

  45. No, what happened in 2010 is that Alex Sink was a horrible, horrible, horrible candidate. Rick Scott rips her in a debate and all she does is sit there with that Renee Zellweger-type of squint and smiles. She had every endorsement of every paper. She was a very, very, very bad candidate.

    As far as the Senate race, that is comparing apples and oranges. If there was one defined candidate against Rubio, I think more voters would have turned out and voted for that candidate.

    But the math is simple…more people wanted Crist than Meek.

  46. Dave,

    Our so called leaders forced Crist down our throats and made the case Meek could not win. Wexler, Aaronson, Campbell, Porth, Butterworth, etc all sold put the party.

    What resulted from these claims and Sink’s total incompetence was depressed turnout. Obama is to blame also. Thanks to Wexler he aligned his staff with Crist, sold Meek out and both lost.

    As it turns out Rubio still got close to 50%. in a two way race he wins against either candidate.

  47. Butterworth was appointed DCF Chair under Crist so he was merely returning the favor.

    As for Wexler rumor has it he was close to indictment when he resigned.

    The well publicized scandal involving the management of his campaign funds is simply the tip of the iceberg from the buzz heard on I95.

  48. The biggest issue is that DECs do not enforce their own rules. Consistently Democratic club presidents get involved in primaries, back Republicans in non partisan elections and create their own PACs. Elected officials back GOPers and get away with it. Without a strong umbrella organization we have chaos and no punishment for those who backed Crist early on and undermined Meek’s chances.

    We might as well chunk the party bylaws in the recycle bin. No use keeping them in this environment.

  49. The President has already made it very clear he is for Crist. I think we ought to stop fighting and instead welcome him to the party.

    Wexler is a good Democrat. So is Butterworth. Do you really think they’d lead us astray?

  50. The Democratic Party in both Broward and Palm Beach Counties are controlled by law firms that have government contracts and lobbysists.

    So in short yes, they would easily and willingly lead true Democrats astray.

  51. The President is not for Crist or no one is for him. Wexler sucks so bad he didn’t even get a job with Obama. Retro..get with the program. Gary..true dat.

  52. The angry, bitter former staffers and disaffected job seekers and losing former candidates are making this message thread hilarious and a drag all at once. People, Charlie is now coming to us and we either embrace him or risk losing again.

  53. Morning Star, Wexler staffer…Eric Johnson whoever you are.
    We will elect Obama ourselves….without Charlie.

  54. Whether I am a staffer current or former means nothing. What is important is that we are building the party attracting new blood and new members. Losing is so 2000s pre Obama. Let us build a bigger tent, more vibrant Democratic party that wins!

  55. It’s so obvious you are a staffer…you are too up the ass of Wexler and Johnson. New blood agree but not those that vote against us…your prolife, progun and provoucher Democrats suck! It is clear Wexler has some bad blood with many people including his own staff. Wexler is a joke…ask anyone who still remembers him outside of screwing up 2010 election. He is a joke. Wake up morning star.

  56. Insulting Robert Wexler and Charlie Crist does nothing but gives assistance to the Republicans.

    When did Crist ever support vouchers or other religious agenda items?

  57. Telling it the way it is helps the Rs? Charlie voted with the Rs for how many years? RW insults himself. No one respects him in his district but they love Deutch.

    Go look morning star. Democrats and Republicans will be campaigning against dumb and dumber. Obama will be re-elected because he is smarter than this and so are the voters.