ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Charlie Crist, the former Florida Republican governor, has won the Democratic nomination in the race to be the state's next governor, unofficial results show.
He defeated Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried in the Democratic primary election and faces Republican incumbent Ron DeSantis in the November general election.
Crist said in a tweet following Tuesday's win that he's proud to race against DeSantis in November.
The 66-year-old began his political career as a Republican, serving in the Florida Senate, as Florida Education Commissioner and Florida Attorney General. He served as Florida’s governor from 2007-2011 and joined the Democratic party in 2012 after endorsing former President Barack Obama for reelection.
In 2016, Crist flipped a Republican seat and was elected as the Democratic Congressman for Florida’s 13th District.
During his time as Florida’s 44th governor, he led Floridians through the Great Recession and the Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill.
Crist is running on the promise to “build a Florida for all Floridians.” He’s been endorsed by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Miami Sen. Jason Pizzo and Democratic Rep. Kevin Chambliss. All have been outspoken critics of current DeSantis.
He has pushed for voting rights — undoing DeSantis’ limitations on mail ballots, reducing gun violence through stricter gun safety laws and women’s abortion rights.
Where does Charlie Crist stand on the issues?
Crist has been open about his want to preserve a woman’s right to choose and make decisions about their own body. In an interview with 10 Tampa Bay’s Liz Crawford, he called the overturning of Roe v. Wade after 50 years “unconscionable” and a “nightmare.”
If elected governor, Crist vowed to sign an executive order to protect a woman’s right to an abortion on his first day in office.
“Safer neighborhoods, safer schools, safer Florida” are the focus of Crist’s platform when it comes to gun ownership and rights.
He wants to take steps to prevent gun violence like extending background checks, preventing domestic abusers from access to firearms, limiting high-capacity magazines and assault weapons and funding locally driven violence prevention strategies.
Crist openly denounced what he calls DeSantis’ constant voter suppression efforts. He’s concerned with election integrity, he said in an interview with 10 Tampa Bay. If elected governor, he plans to reverse DeSantis’ limits on mail ballots, have Florida join the states who automatically register to vote those seeking a driver’s license or who conduct business with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and make it easier for the governor and Florida Cabinet to restore felons rights.
He also wants to improve accessibility by pushing the Florida Legislature to move the primary election to the spring when more voters are in the state, as well as make Election Day a state holiday so every voter had a bigger opportunity to cast their vote.
As the last elected Florida Commissioner of Education, Crist has a plan to improve pre-K through 12 public education. As governor, he would declare a teacher shortage emergency and begin recruiting teachers and educator support staff as well as invest in higher teacher pay by increasing starting salary beyond $47,500.
Crist condemns what he calls the “politicizing of classrooms” through bills like the "Parental Rights in Education Act" — called "Don’t Say Gay" by critics — and the banning of teaching critical race theory. He wants to “ease the pain of politicized classrooms and pandemic learning loss” and listen to the wants of parents. He wants to make schools safer by building a foundation of trust between parents, teachers, students, staff, elected officials and law enforcement.
Crist points out on his campaign site that “it has never cost more to be a Floridian.” Therefore, he has created the Affordable Florida Plan, which centers on affordable housing, ending electric rate increases, expanding broadband internet accessibility, lowering homeowner insurance rates and securing “better, lower cost car insurance.”
Crist has a goal of putting the state on a path to reaching 1 million solar roofs. “The Sunshine state should be a national leader in solar power,” his campaign site reads. He lists multiple solutions to meet that goal, such as enhancing solar incentives, creating solar renewable energy credits and creating “solar for all” low-income grants.
Reaching across the aisle
A Democratic governor will most likely face a Florida legislature that is majority Republican, so working well with other party members will be crucial.
Crist said he reaches across the aisle and works with Republican politicians and congressmen all of the time. When he was first elected to Congress in 2016, Crist worked alongside Republican Congressman Mike Johnson to form the Honor and Civility Caucus, a bipartisan group that aims to uphold and promote civility and statesmanship as well as restore trust in American politicians.
If he becomes governor, he'll work on developing relationships, especially with those moderate Republicans who are equally suppressed by the current governor, he said.
He plans to build trust by sharing experiences, finding common ground and learning the best ways to work together for the betterment of the people of Florida rather than the political parties in Florida.