Last Friday, former President Bill Clinton acknowledged to a crowd of Charlie Crist supporters a major challenge: to get voters, specifically in South Florida, out for the non-presidential election this Nov. 4.
Clinton was speaking at a downtown Miami hotel. He talked about the need for a Florida governor who will support key Democrat issues -- expanding Medicaid, preparing for rising seas and increasing the minimum wage -- but stressed the public's role in the election.
“I’ll come down here as many times as you will have me,” Clinton said, “we can have a lot of successful fundraisers, we can have lot of successful enthusiastic rallies, but in the end it’s all on you.”
It might seem odd to have a former president stumping for a governor’s race, but Susan MacManus, a political science professor at the University of South Florida, says it’s no surprise.
In many ways, big-hitters like Bill Clinton are drumming up support not just for the gubernatorial race, but preparing voters to get out the vote for the 2016 presidential election. But McManus says there’s clearly a benefit now for Crist in the governor’s race.
“From the get-go, we’ve known that South Florida is going to be the key battleground for the Democrats,” she says. “It’s where they lost the 2010 race, narrowly, because of relatively low turnout in those key South Florida counties which have a disproportionately large number of Democratic voters.”
At this point, in the final two months before the election, polls have Democratic candidate Charlie Crist down two to five points behind Republican Governor Rick Scott.