The first time I met Charlie Crist, he was the state Attorney General. It was at a Florida Department of Law Enforcement news conference in their then-new digs along the Dolphin Expressway near Florida's Turnpike.
I'm fairly certain it was one of those Joint Agency Task Force announcements that had something to do with Identity Theft (Hint: "We're against it.")
Former Gov. Charlie Crist made it official Friday: He will run for his old job again in 2014, setting up a potential battle with Republican Gov. Rick Scott for the state's highest office.
Crist, who is set to announce his candidacy Monday morning at Albert Whitted Park in St. Petersburg, quietly filed his paperwork Friday with state election officials. The move allows him to begin raising money immediately. He becomes an instant front-runner in a Democratic primary that also includes former state Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich of Weston.
Nan Rich often riffs that she has an unfair advantage over Charlie Crist in the quest to oust incumbent Gov. Rick Scott.
"I'm a woman, a mom and a grandmother. Those are powerful things to be today in this state," Rich told Democrats gathered in Orlando for their state conference over the weekend.
Rich may have exaggerated her edge over Crist, a former Republican who will formally enter the race on Monday. But she isn't overstating the importance women voters have in determining who wins elections across the country, and especially in Florida.
Hundreds of Florida Democrats fawned over former Gov. Charlie Crist this weekend at their annual conference as the onetime "Reagan Republican" campaigned relentlessly, receiving a hero's welcome more than a week before he officially announces his candidacy for governor.
The Florida Democratic Party's conference gave Crist, who wasn't an official speaker, a platform to do what he seems to love best --- pose for photographs, whisper words of encouragement and linger long enough with admirers to create a logjam wherever he went.
Expected next month to launch a bid to return to the governor's office, Democrat Charlie Crist released a YouTube video Friday that might foreshadow the themes of his 2014 campaign.
Crist referred to himself as the "people's governor," a familiar mantra from his days in office. Though he didn't mention Republican Gov. Rick Scott by name, Crist took shots at Scott, who has used a theme of "It's Working" while trying to convince voters the state has rebounded under his stewardship.
Florida has always been a state to watch, if only as a guilty pleasure or perhaps in self-defense. But some major political stars are aligning and the pundits are beginning to agree, Florida will really be a State To Watch from now at least through the 2016 election.
The personalities-of-the moment are here. The game-changing demographics are here. And the Florida stage is set for epic -- and deeply symbolic -- political confrontations.
In 2012, Florida remained the state that can't vote straight.
President Barack Obama sent Florida's GOP leaders in to shock by winning the state in November, and some Democrats followed his coattails to make the state slightly bluer. But while licking their wounds, Republicans remain in firm control of Florida's agenda.
On the Florida Roundup: The tragedy in Connecticut hits home in what some people call “The Gunshine State,”as Florida has over a million concealed weapons permits, the most in the country. Do you feel safer? We hear your reaction to Florida’s milestone. And will gun control be on the agenda in Tallahassee?
Gov. Rick Scott would be in serious trouble if an election were to take place today.
According to the latest Quinnipiac poll, his approval ratings remain in the cellar and 52 percent of Florida voters think he does not deserve a second term.
Republicans are the big asterisk in the survey of 1,261 voters taken last week. Sixty-three percent of GOP voters approve of the governor's performance and 55 say he deserves another term although 53 percent are hoping another Republican candidate replaces him in the 2014 election.
In what may be a preview of the governor’s race, former governor Charlie Crist directly criticized Governor Rick Scott before a U.S. Senate hearing on voting rights. Crist was critical of Scott for helping to pass a 2011 election law that limited early voting hours.
Former U. S. Sen. George LeMieux was once Charlie Crist's closest confidant as his chief of staff, so valued by the ex-governor that it was Crist who appointed him to fill out the term of the retiring Mel Martinez in the Senate in 2009.
But things have changed drastically in three years.
After an unsuccessful attempt at being elected to a Senate seat last year in the Republican primary, the Broward native is now chairman of the Gunster Law Firm in Fort Lauderdale.