GOP Gov Ron DeSantis took some shots at U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, a Republican-turned-Democrat and former Florida governor who declared Tuesday he is running once again for the state’s top elected position next year.
During a rally on Tuesday, Crist took his own shots at the incumbent governor who has been widely praised at home and around the country for his management of the COVID-19 pandemic rapid reopening of state venues and the economy.
“This is a governor who doesn’t listen, who doesn’t care, and doesn’t think about you — unless of course, you can write a campaign check,” Crist said. “Really, he sees our state’s wonderful diversity as a threat, not a strength we all celebrate. He’s failed to lead during the greatest health and economic crisis of our lifetime.”
Crist also accused DeSantis, who has been mentioned as a potential 2024 presidential contender, of being more focused on “personal political fortunes” while tying him to former President Donald Trump as a leader “who always takes credit but never takes responsibility.”
But DeSantis blew off Crist as a serious challenger on Tuesday, mockingly asking, “Which party is he going to run under?”
DeSantis went on to tie Crist to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the California Democrat’s far-left views while saying the former Florida governor ought to be running as a Green Party candidate instead.
The GOP leader also said he was looking forward to debating Crist and other Democratic contenders, especially when it comes to discussing how he handled the pandemic versus policies that most Democrats have favored throughout, including lockdowns, prolonged business and school closures, and endless mask mandates.
“If you look at our state and how we’re doing, I don’t think people could argue with the result,” DeSantis said. “Please run on lockdowns, please run against us putting seniors first.”
Crist ran for Florida governor as a Republican in 2006 and won, but stepped away in 2010 to run as an Independent for the U.S. Senate against Marco Rubio, a race he lost. He ran unsuccessfully for governor again in 2014 as a Democrat, losing to now-U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, a Republican.
While he was in office, his record was considered moderate. He agreed with restoring voting rights to felons and “eagerly welcomed stimulus help from the federal government during the Great Recession,” Politico reported.
Crist would go on to blame opposition to then-President Barack Obama as the reason he left the GOP.
As for DeSantis, he accused Crist of being a political chameleon who was always on the lookout for an open office for which to run.
“I look at his voting record in the Congress, he has voted this Congress with Nancy Pelosi 100% of the time, so he probably could give it a run and be credible with the Green Party even, so who knows,” DeSantis said.
“Look, anytime there’s an open office somewhere, you can bet someone like Crist is probably going to be slithering around for it, so that’s fine,” said the GOP governor, who also announced that firefighters, police, and EMS personnel would be receiving a $1,000 bonus across the state.
— Elina Shirazi (@elinashirazi) May 5, 2021
Other Democrats expected to seek their party’s gubernatorial nomination in Florida include current Agriculture Secretary Nikki Fried, a long-time critic of DeSantis, and U.S. Rep. Val Demings, a former career police officer and chief of the Orlando Police Department.
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