Democrat fundraising support for Crist grows

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The share of Democratic supporters donating to Charlie Crist’s U.S. Senate campaign has multiplied since the Florida governor left the GOP in April to run as an independent, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.

Donors who had given to President Obama’s 2008 campaign made up almost 10 percent of the individual contributions to Crist’s campaign in the second quarter of this year, from April through June. By comparison, Obama donors made up only about 2.5 percent of individual contributions to Crist when he was running for Senate as a Republican, according to the AP analysis.

The percentage of donations Crist received from contributors to his 2006 Democratic gubernatorial rival, Jim Davis, doubled. Through March as a Republican, Crist received slightly more than 3 percent of his donations from Davis donors. In the second quarter, about 7 percent of his donations came from Davis contributors.

If Crist wins the Senate seat in November’s election, Democrats likely will try to persuade the independent to caucus with them.

Sarasota attorney David M. Shapiro, a registered Democrat, wrote Crist’s campaign two checks for $2,400 each, the maximum allowed after Crist left the GOP. Shapiro doesn’t like Republican candidate Marco Rubio, and he also applauded Crist’s decision to veto a bill tying teacher’s pay to test scores and the governor’s attempt to ban offshore drilling in state waters.

“That did it, when he left the GOP, but a lot of the positions that he took resonated with me,” said Shapiro, 50, who contributed both to Obama and Davis. “There are very few Republicans I would have given to in the past. I can’t even remember the last one.”

Crist left the GOP after polls showed him trailing Rubio. A poll released last month showed Crist slightly ahead of Rubio in a three-way general election matchup, with the Democratic contenders U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek and billionaire businessman Jeff Greene trailing.

Meek spokesman Adam Sharon said the jump in Democratic-donor support didn’t suggest a mass movement toward Crist. Rubio’s spokesman Alex Burgos said some Democrats’ support for Crist is “unique, but speaks to the larger issue of Charlie Crist willing to do and say anything to win votes and raise money.”

Even before he left the GOP, Crist held appeal to some Democrats.

Lorna Gregory, 53, who runs a managed health care company in Tampa, wrote Crist two checks for $2,400 after donating to Obama and Davis in years past. She considered Crist a moderate and was grateful that during budget negotiations he had preserved funding for anti-domestic violence advocacy.

“I think he still has a tremendous amount of credibility,” said Gregory, a registered Democrat. “I’m seeing a lot of my colleagues and friends, who typically vote Democratic, tipping their hat toward him.”

Crist raised $1.8 million in the second quarter and has raised almost $12 million in the election cycle. Rubio raised $4.5 million in the second quarter, and has raised a total of $11.5 million.

Meek raised more than $1 million in the second quarter, and he has raised a total of $7 million. Greene has spent $5.9 million on his Senate campaign, mostly from his own pockets.