While he might be packing up to leave the White House at the start of next year, President Barack Obama is looking to shape this year’s elections in Florida by taking sides in the Democratic primaries.
With David Jolly having left the Senate race to run for another term in the House, Obama threw his support to Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor who, after losing the 2014 gubernatorial race, is engaged in another comeback attempt.
Crist faces two dark horses in the Democratic primary at the end of August but is the favorite to win the nomination.
Crist’s primary frontrunner status was only confirmed on Monday when Obama endorsed him.
"Governor Charlie Crist has always put people above politics – and we need more of that in Washington," Obama said before praising Crist for breaking ranks with the GOP in 2009 to back his economic stimulus plan. "As governor, in the face of partisan attacks, he had the courage to save jobs and lead his state into economic recovery. He had the wisdom to recognize that climate change is real and act to fight it. And he had the decency to expand, not restrict, our right to vote. I know he'll bring the people's voice to Congress, and I've got his back."
"I'm humbled and honored that President Obama, one of the greatest leaders in our nation's history, has my back," Crist said. "Outside of the voters of Pinellas County, no endorsement means more to me. He's done so much for our beautiful Florida – guiding us out of the recession, and working for greater equality, opportunity, and prosperity. He's a great friend."
But that’s not the only primary race in Florida where Obama is taking sides. He’s backing Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), in a competitive primary against Tim Canova. Obama is also behind Patrick Murphy’s Senate bid despite facing a major opponent in Alan Grayson.
The Murphy campaign released a radio ad on Monday showcasing Obama’s support.
“I’m asking you to join me in supporting Democrat Patrick Murphy for U.S. Senate on Tuesday, August 30th,” Obama says in the new ad. “In Congress, I could always count on Patrick to have my back. He’s been there for me when I needed him.
“Patrick is a strong progressive, standing up to the tea party obstructionists who’ve tried to turn back the clock on our progress,” Obama adds. “Patrick’s fought to protect Social Security and Medicare. And the right to affordable health-care, while working to keep our families safe from gun violence. And, working to reform our criminal justice system.
“Now I need Patrick Murphy in the Senate – to create good paying jobs, make sure corporations pay their fair share, and grow an economy that works for all of us – with equal pay for equal work,” Obama concludes. “So on Tuesday, August 30th, please vote for Patrick Murphy for Senate.”