Florida Governor and independent Senate candidate Charlie Crist is looking for campaign donations from the Democrats’ side of the aisle now, talking up potential contributors that he wouldn’t have dreamed of while still a member of the GOP.
A couple weeks ago, civil trial lawyer Lance Block, a self-proclaimed “liberal Democrat,” held a fundraiser for Crist’s independent campaign at his home in Tallahassee, Fla., hosting several high profile Democrats. Among the top Democrat guests at the fundraiser were teacher union lobbyist and lawyer Ron Meyer, adviser to former Florida Democrat governor Lawton Chiles, Dexter Douglass, and former Democratic Speaker of Florida’s House of Representatives and former Florida State University President T.K. Wetherell.
Block said though he’s an “admirer of Kendrick Meek,” the front running Democrat candidate in Florida’s U.S. Senate race, and that he “supported his opponent in ’06,” he thinks Crist appeals to both sides.
“He’s won me over slowly as Florida’s governor,” Block said.
Republican candidate Marco Rubio lost no time jumping at Crist’s latest stunt.
“It’s clear that his positions and flip-flops are directly tied to his pursuing money from constituents and individuals who support his newfound liberal policies,” Alex Burgos, spokesperson for the Rubio campaign, said. “It’s clear that his campaign is poll-driven. He’ll say or do anything to get elected.”
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Michelle Todd, an adviser to the Crist campaign, said the new donors from the far left shouldn’t surprise anyone.
“Charlie Crist has always enjoyed support from both sides of the aisle,” Todd said.
Block said he wouldn’t have donated to Crist or held that fundraiser at his house were he still a member of the GOP, though.
Rubio’s camp criticized Crist and President Obama’s administration on their response to the ongoing oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, too.
“The true test of the leaders in this issue [handling the oil spill and cleanup efforts] is not about how many times they appear on TV or how many press releases they send out,” Burgos said. “You want to see words backed up by actual action. At this point, what really matters is getting enough boom and skimmers out there and any other equipment needed.”
Crist’s camp says his appearances as related to the oil spill have nothing to do with political gain or campaigning.
“The governor of Florida is focused on Florida,” Todd said. “That’s his job.”
Rubio agrees that Crist should be getting something done and should be focused on Florida. But, he wonders why the people on Northwest Florida’s coast still don’t have all the skimmers, boom and equipment they need.
“Louisiana was the first to be impacted by this [oil spill] a few weeks ago and now we’re going through the same things,” Burgos said.
On June 18, the day before the president’s infamous golf outing and BP executive Tony Hayward’s yacht race, Crist said he thought the Obama administration was “up to speed” in its response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Rubio’s camp said there’s no way Crist could have known what the people along Florida’s Gulf Coast really felt then and that Crist only drops comments like that to be benefit his campaign.
“It speaks to the frustration that a lot of these people impacted by this firsthand are being driven to,” Burgos said.
As for what to do, Rubio recommends following the lead of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.
“Gov. Bobby Jindal is a textbook example of successful leadership and holding the federal government and administration accountable,” Burgos said.