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Charlie Crist Makes Nice to Democrats as He Looks Ahead to 2014

October 6, 2013 - 6:00pm

Former Gov. Charlie Crist is out front and center in backing Democrats for higher office as he looks to woo over his new party with a second gubernatorial bid in mind.

Crist has been ramping up for Florida Democrats in recent days. On Monday, Crist offered his support to former Rep. Rick Kriseman who is running for mayor of St. Petersburg, the former governors home turf.

I have seen Rick Kriseman in action and he was effective, Crist insisted on Monday. He brought people together from both parties to solve problems and pass important legislation.

Crist praised Kriseman for his role in opposing offshore drilling. In his last months as governor, after the Gulf oil spill, Crist called a special session of the Legislature to pass a ban on offshore drilling. The House convened and adjourned in less than an hour, ending any hope for Crists ban. The mayoral race places Crist against the Republican he plans to challenge in 2014: Gov. Rick Scott who is backing St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster.

Kriseman is not the only Democrat who has gained Crists endorsement in recent days. Last week, Crist backed Amanda Murphy, the Democrat running in a special election for a House seat representing parts of Pasco County. Murphy takes on Republican candidate Bill Gunter in the special election on Oct. 15.

Crist sent out a message to supporters on Sunday asking for them to back Murphy. I endorsed my friend Amanda Murphy for the state House in Pasco County, Crist posted on Facebook before asking supporters to back her. Her election is in just a few days and she needs our help. Can you help her out?

With his recent spate of activity for Florida Democrats, Crist looks to put his political past behind him. First elected to the Florida Senate as a Republican back in 1992, Crist moved up the GOP ranks, running against U.S. Sen. Bob Graham in 1998 and becoming state education commissioner in 2000. Stressing his conservative credentials, Crist continued to ascend, becoming state attorney general in 2002 and governor in 2006.

With the exception of running for a second term for the state Senate, Crist made a habit of seeking new offices and it came back and haunted him in 2010. After endorsing President Barack Obamas federal stimulus, Crist once again set his sights on the U.S. Senate, running for an open seat in 2010. But Marco Rubio caught Crist in the polls for the Republican nomination leading the former governor to leave the GOP and continue his ambitions with no party affiliation. Rubio easily routed Crist in the general election. After endorsing Obama in 2012, Crist joined the Democrats after the presidential election.

A recent poll finds Crist in solid shape for the Democratic nomination. Public Policy Polling (PPP), a firm with connections to Democrats, released last week had Crist easily beating former state Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich in the Democratic primary 59 percent to 16 percent. The poll showed Crist leading Scott 50 percent to 38 percent in the general election.

Reach Kevin Derby at or follow him on Twitter at @KevinDerbySSN.

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