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With a population of more than 21 million people, Florida is our country’s third largest state.  After the 2010 census, its Members of Congress were increased from 25 to 27.  After the 2020 census, the delegation has been increased to 28.  Governor Ron DeSantis insisted he would veto every redistricting proposal sent to him.  As a result, the state legislature turned redistricting over to him.  His plan, which the legislature has approved, eliminates two of the four Black plurality districts and probably gives Republicans 20 of the 28 districts. Currently, Republicans have 16 of the 27 districts.  A gain of 4 Members of Congress from Florida could achieve a Republican majority in Congress.

 Like all the other states, Florida has two Senators.  Its population is slightly more than the total of the 16 smallest states which, together, have 32 Senators and 29 Members of Congress.

Florida also has a Senate election this year. Democratic Congresswoman Val Demings is challenging the incumbent Republican Marco Rubio.

 In  state Constitutional races, other than for the governor:

Three Democrats are seeking to oppose the Republican incumbent Attorney General Ashley Moody

Three Democrats are seeking to oppose the Republican incumbent Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis

Democrat Ryan Morales is seeking to replace Democrat Nikki Fried as Agriculture Commissioner.  She is running for governor.  Four Republicans seek to oppose Ryan Morales.

As for the Congressional races, it is too early to have a handle on who is running for what districts even if the DeSantis plan holds up in court.

Today’s piece is about Florida’s Gubernatorial election.  Democratic Congressman Charlie Crist is challenging the incumbent Republican Ron DeSantis.

May 2nd , 2022         Political Note #464  Charlie Crist Florida Governor

2022                             General Election

The Florida primary is not until August 23.  We can’t wait.  The most recent poll for the Democratic primary, found Democratic Congressman and former Republican Governor Charlie Crist leading Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried 35-26. The third candidate was in single digits.  That result is consistent with previous polls.  August is too far away.  We have to start treating Charlie Crist as the nominee.

Charlie Crist has raised $7 million.  Nikki Fried has raised $6 million.  Governor Ron DeSantis has raised $100 million.

Instead of treating Charlie Crist as the nominee, we could concede.  Assume DeSantis will win.  Let him try to extend Donald Trump’s legacy.  He’ll run for President in 2024 if Trump does not.  Otherwise, he’ll run in 2028.  Floridians don’t want another four years of DeSantis.  We who are not Floridians do not want to make him the heir to Donald Trump.

We all have had a chance to watch DeSantis in the last month.  Vindictive, he acted against a big corporation that crossed him; offended, he bullied teenagers who wore masks. He will decide what teachers teach and what books are in libraries.  He thinks that a math book that encourages kids to help each other misses the point of mathematics – getting the right answer.  Right answers are important in math, but but they are not what mathematics is about. Education for that matter, is about  more than getting right answers.  Education is about is a culture where kids and adults learn to help each other.

DeSantis can use power.  Ending Disney’s special district because the company criticized his “Don’t Say Gay Law” is reminiscent of Putin jailing Mikhail Khodorkovsky.  Khodorkovsky, who once was Russia’s wealthiest man, was jailed for funding an opposition party.  You might think that jailing someone is a more severe punishment.  Do you have any doubt that DeSantis would jail opponents if he had the authority?  You might think that Khodorkovsky was jailed for embezzlement?  You believe that, do you?

Khodorkovsky describes Putin as his “personal enemy” and “the enemy of mankind.”  Before DeSantis is in a position to be the “enemy of mankind,” we should defeat him.  We won’t match his money, but we can help Charlie Crist raise enough money to compete.  If Charlie Crist can compete, he can win.  Probably not if we wait until August. DeSantis is  not waiting.  He has already created an election police force.  Do we trust them to enforce the law even handedly?  Are we confident that even handedness is what DeSantis is asking for?

Do we want to support Charlie Crist?  Can we generate enthusiasm for him?  Now a Democratic Congressman, he is a former Republican State Senator, former Republican Education Commissioner, former Republican Attorney General, former Republican Governor.  Writers like the Washington Post’s Chris Cilizza, the New Republic’s Isaac Chotiner, and Rolling Stone’s Jeb Lund have no time for him.  “Soulless” said one describing Crist’s book about shifting from Republican to Democrat.  Lacking any core principals said another.  He dropped out of the Republican primary for US Senator in 2010 when it was clear that state Senator Marco Rubio would defeat him.

Here is an alternative view.  Think of it as a similar view, just friendlier and kinder.  Charlie Crist came to understand politics helping his medical doctor dad leaflet to be elected to the school board back in the day when there was nothing partisan about being on a school board.  Charlie Crist became the high school quarterback and the high school class president.  For Charlie Crist politics was popularity.

 Despite a knee injury, despite not being recruited, Charlie Crist was a walk-on for the Wake Forest football team.  He did better than most walk-ons. He remained on the team for two years. He didn’t start.  He didn’t play.  He finally gave up and left for Florida State where he was no football player at all.  He was popular.  He was elected vice president of the student body, popular even as a transfer student. From there he got a law degree at Samford University.

 What has Charlie Crist been good at as a politician?  Meeting with constituents one-to-one.  Listening to them. Feeling empathy for them and confidence that he could fix their problems and the problems of others.

 His critics on the left say that because he has no convictions, he responds to the issue of the moment.  Charlie Crist had a start as a kind of traditional conservative, resistant to change.  But he is has been moved by issues and by big events – when they reach him.

Charlie Crist was a moderate Republican out of inclination.  He has been a moderate to conservative Blue Dog Democrat in Congress because he was as comfortable in that role as he was as a Republican.   His critics say he left the Republicans and eventually joined the Democrats because Rubio was going to clobber him in the Republican primary.

Why was Rubio going to clobber him?  Charlie Crist points to the photograph of him hugging Barack Obama.  From the day that photograph became public, in a world where Republicans decided that Obama was the enemy, Charlie Crist, in his opinion, was lost to the Republican party.  Before he became a Democrat in 2012, he endorsed Barack Obama for reelection.

Charlie Crist ismost  comfortable with non-partisan issues.  His advertising promises “better schools, better jobs, a stronger economy, a cleaner environment, and a better life for all Floridians.” Just rhetoric?  Or the voice of a centrist?

 Over the years, throughout his transition to being a Democrat, Charlie Crist has struggled with core issues. As a Republican governor he supported Barack Obama’s Recovery Act which, he says, saved the job of 20,000 school teachers.  His fellow Republicans did not forgive him.

 As early as 1995, he expressed pro-choice leanings, but cautiously.  In 2010, as a Republican candidate he said he would fight for pro-life legislation.  After leaving the Republican Party, he leaned back toward being pro-choice.

 In the fall of 2010, while running as an independent for the US Senate, he said he evolved on same sex marriage and same sex adoption, He apologized for his past opposition to both.

 There are worse things in a politician than wanting to be popular and wanting to lead where the people want to go.   The current Republican problem is most of the elected and their financial supporters hold views contrary to the views of the country.  As a consequence, they find other ways to win, sinister ways, really.

Can Charlie Crist excite the Democratic base?  Probably not. The base is  excited, however, about defeating Ron DeSantis.  The press thinks DeSantis is winning.  CNN:  “Ron DeSantis governing strategy in Florida is paying off”.  Tallahassee Democrat: “DeSantis unchained: Disney fight shows a powerful governor emboldened and vengeful.”  NBC News: “Florida Governor DeSantis’s Disney and math crusade trumps Trump.”

 Since January, most polls find DeSantis leading.  To reverse that, we need to help Charlie Crist enter the general election contest now.  We need to provide him with enough resources so he can cruise to the primary win, where he is already leading.  Charlie Crist can focus on what’s wrong with DeSantis and what’s right with the people’s views on those cultural issues and, therefore, what’s right with Charlie Crist.

 A “Vengeful” governor is not what many people want.  DeSantis’s crusade against Disney is no more appropriate than Putin’s attack on Khodorkovsky.  DeSantis’s attack on math textbooks resembles the attacks of dictators on books from time immemorial.  Help Charlie Crist eat into the DeSantis financial lead.  Give more than you ordinarily would.

  Gubernatorial Races around the country:

Arizona.  In February a poll showed Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (See Political Note #402) leading every Republican candidate except Fox anchor Kari Lake, who she trailed by a point.

Arkansas.  In February a poll showed Sarah Huckabee Sanders leading MIT graduate and student of nuclear engineering Chris Jones (See Political Note #421) by double digits.

 Florida.  As we’ve seen most polls show the incumbent Republican Ron DeSantis ahead of both candidates by double digits, though Charlie Crist does better than Nikki Fried among Democrats

Georgia. Polls in April, February, and January show Democrat Stacey Abrams (See Political Note #432) about even with Trump endorsee ex Senator David Perdue, but behind incumbent Brian Kemp by high single digits.

Iowa.  Polls in February and March showed Incumbent Republican Kim Reynolds defeating Democratic former Secretary of State candidate Deidre DeJear by 17 points in February and by 8 points in March.

Kansas. There were two polls in the fall.  One showed incumbent Democrat Laura Kelly (See Political Note #358) defeating Attorney General Derek Schmidt by 4 points.  The other poll showed the reverse.

Maine.  Polls last summer showed Incumbent Democrat Janet Mills (See Political Note #407) defeating former governor and “Trump before there was Trump” Paul LePage by 5 to 7 points.

Michigan. Ten Republicans are seeking to defeat Incumbent Democrat Gretchen Whitmer (See Political Note #381).  Polls in January and February showed her leading former Detroit Police Chief James Craig by low single digits and anyone else by double digits.

Minnesota.  Seven Republicans are seeking to defeat Incumbent Democrat Tim Walz.  Polls in January show the closest Republican was State Senator Michelle Benson who he was leading by 3 points.

Nevada. Five Republicans are seeking the nomination to oppose incumbent Democrat Steve Sisolak (See Political Note #414).  In two April polls, he trails former Democratic Mayor John Lee, now a Republican, by 2 points. In one poll he also trails county Sheriff Joe Lombardo by 2 points.  Steve Sisolak leads the others.

New Mexico. Four Republicans are seeking the nomination to oppose Incumbent Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham.  In a January poll sponsored by one of the Republicans, she led him by 2 points.

New York. Four Republicans are seeking the nomination to oppose incumbent Democrat Kathy Hochul.  Two polls in April show her beating all comers by double digits.

Ohio.  A poll in January showed Democratic candidate Cincinnati mayor John Cranley  trailing former Congressman Jim Renacci by 10  points, former Lt. Governor Mary Taylor by 4, and both the incumbent Mike DeWine and Farmer Joe Blystone by 2. I have not a poll that included Democratic candidate Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley.

Oklahoma.  A February poll shows Democrat Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister (See Political Note #449) trailing the incumbent Kevin Stitt by 22 points.  A March poll shows her trailing by 14.

Pennsylvania. Attorney General Josh Shapiro (See Political Note #426) will be the Democratic nominee for this open seat. Ten candidates are seeking the Republican nomination.  According to an April poll the leaders are State Senator Doug Mastriano, former Congressman Lou Barletta, and former US Attorney William McSwain.

South Dakota. Democrat state House Minority Leader Jamie Smith (See Political Note #450) is running against the incumbent Republican Kristi Noem.

 Texas. An April 1 poll shows former Congressman Democrat Beto O’Rourke (See Political Note #431)  trailing the Republican incumbent 42-40.

 Wisconsin. Polls from last summer showed Incumbent Democrat Tony Evers (See Political Note #366) leading, by single digits, Rebecca Kleefish or Businessman Kevin Nicholson.

Alabama.  Polls in the fall of 2021 found incumbent Kay Ivey leading any Democrat by double digits

Alaska.  With its top four ranked voting run-off, one Democrat, three Republicans and an ex-governor Independent running, the race is impossible to predict,

California.  In September, 2021, a poll showed Incumbent Democrat Gavin Newsom leading every possible Republican candidate by 20 points or more.

 Colorado  In February and in the fall, polls showed incumbent Democrat Jared Polis leading every possible Republican by double digits.

Connecticut.  In the fall, a poll showed incumbent Democrat Ned Lamont leading two possible Republican candidates by double digits.

 Hawaii.  Democratic Governor David Ige is term limited.  Several Democrats and several Republicans are seeking to replace him.

 Idaho.  Polls last August showed incumbent Republican Brad Little leading a possible opponent by 10 points.  Democratic Academic Stephen Heidt is running and Mayor Shelby Rognstad is attempting to get on the ballot via write in.

 Illinois.  Five Republicans are seeking to unseat Incumbent Democrat JB Pritzker.  In the fall, he led a possible Republican opponent by double digits.

 Maryland. Seven Democrats and five Republicans are competing for this open seat.

 Massachusetts. Democratic Attorney General Maura Healy is the overwhelming favorite to become the next governor.

Nebraska.  Seven Republicans are in a close race for the nomination for this open seat.  The Democratic candidate is State Senator Carol Blood.

 New Hampshire. Incumbent Republican Chris Sununu leads a Democratic opponent by double digits.

 Oregon. The House Speaker Tina Kotek and State Treasurer Tobias Read are competing for the Democratic nomination.  Seven candidates are seeking the Republican nomination.

 Rhode Island. Incumbent Democrat Dan McKee will have four opponents in the Democratic primary. The only Republican candidate appears to be Businesswoman Ashley Kalus

 South Carolina. Five Democrats including former Congressman Joe Cunningham are seeking the nomination to run against the incumbent Republican Henry McMaster.

Vermont. No Democratic challenger has surfaced to oppose incumbent Republican Phil Scott

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