ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – Charlie Crist made his first stop as the official Democratic candidate for Florida governor on Wednesday in the city where he grew up.
Crist soundly defeated Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried with nearly 60% of the primary vote on Tuesday night. He kicked off his campaign tour for the general election at Kissin’ Cuzzins, a popular restaurant in St. Petersburg.
According to Crist, the focus of his campaign will be addressing average people’s problems with compassion.
Since joining the race, Crist has emphasized the importance of getting Gov. Ron DeSantis out of the office.
“Those who support the governor should say with him and vote for him. I don’t want your vote,” he said Wednesday morning.
Crist has three decades of experience in Florida politics. He previously served as Florida’s governor. He was a member of the Republican Party at the time.
Heading into the 2022 general election as the Democratic nominee, Crist faces a deficit against Gov. DeSantis’ record-breaking fundraising.
“I think one of the biggest challenges is that come to Ron DeSantis has raised over $130 million,” said Florida Rep. Anna Eskamani (D-FL47).
Rep. Eskamani of Orange County said she supports Crist for focusing on issues Floridians are worried about. She also knows the democratic party will have to raise funds heading into the general election.
“Part of our strength is that we have a such a diverse state wide take,” she said. “It’s not just Charlie Christ on the top ticket, it’s also Val Deming’s running against Marco Rubio.”
A vision she said she believes will appeal to not only Democrats but those with no party affiliation and even some Republicans.
“We need elected officials that are not thinking about their next campaign like Gov. Ron DeSantis and elect people who are centered on addressing the affordable housing crisis, protecting abortion rights, and ensuring that every person can find a wholehearted life here in Florida.”
“I’m running against a guy who apparently hates democracy. He wants to tell every school board in the state what to do. He wants to tell every county commission in the state what to do. He wants to tell every woman in the state what to do. This guy has no compassion for people,” Crist claimed.
Crist has vowed to reinstate suspended State Attorney Andrew Warren of the 13th Judicial Circuit if elected. He also promised to sign an executive order protecting women’s reproductive rights.
“We need to bring our beautiful Florida back together,” he said.
Crist said he’ll name a running mate in the near future.