(Update: Nan Rich responds. See below). Although he won't be the (likely) Democratic party nominee for governor for 40 more days, Charlie Crist announced this morning from Miami that he has selected Annette Taddeo-Goldstein to be running mate and serve as Florida's next Lieutenant Governor if he defeats Rick Scott this fall.
A former party chair and congressional candidate from Miami-Dade County, the 47-year-old Taddeo-Goldstein had been considered to be on Crist's shortlist of would-be running mates. She was also a contender to run the state party after Rod Smith stepped down two years ago, but dropped out of that race and ended up backing current party chair Allison Tant.
“As a working mom and a small businesswoman, I am thrilled to serve with a man who has always fought for Florida’s middle-class families,” said Taddeo. “We deserve a governor who understands the struggle our families and seniors are facing and works every day to make our lives better — not harder."
"Annette is a remarkable woman and a classic American success story,” Crist said in a statement. “She will make an excellent Lieutenant Governor because as a working mom she knows Florida families are struggling to pay their bills, raise their kids, and save for retirement — and because she believes, as I do, that all Floridians deserve a fair shot at success.”
"She is an amazing pick on behalf of the Crist campaign," gushed Tampa Democratic Party consultant Anna Cruz. "It shows how in touch he is with the voters of Florida. Annette has been a working class, single mom, and she is somebody I personally think will resonate with voters across the state of Florida."
But not every Crist fan is supporting the choice.
"With Charlie's selection of Annette Taddeo-Goldstein, he's abandoning any pretense of the non- or post-partisanship attitude he says he wants to return to the Governor's mansion," Stpetersblog.com's Peter Schorsch tells CL. Schorsch is a major supporter of Crist's candidacy.
In 1995, Taddeo-Goldstein founded and became the CEO of LanguageSpeak, a language services company that offers translations in over 240 languages. She's also served as chair of the Women's Enterprise National Council's Leadership Forum and of the Women's Chamber of Commerce of Miami-Dade County, and is serving today on the board of the bipartisan Women’s Campaign Fund.
Although some analysts are questioning why Crist is naming a running mate so far in advance of his likely nomination, it does make sense to do so now. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Rick Scott's Lieutenant Governor/running mate, is already working it hard on the campaign trail, essentially making the race two against one when it comes to directly putting the respective candidate's message out.
Nan Rich fans may feel it's arrogant, but that isn't news. Rich (along with many Democrats and editorial writers) has been imploring Crist to engage in a debate to no avail. When queried as to why he has so far bypassed Rich, Crist says that he's running against Rick Scott and his $100 million war chest.
Taddeo-Goldstein is a Colombian-American, while Lopez-Cantera is Cuban-American, signifying how both parties value luring the Hispanic vote. Being a female can't hurt either, but Democratic Party political consultant Anna Cruz sounded almost insulted when asked about that reality.
"This is not a 'check the box' for us. This is who we fundamentally are. And I want to make myself very clear here. Because we as Democrats we have always been the party of diversity. We haven't tolerated it, we are it. And there's a very clear distinction between us and them [the GOP]," she maintains.
(Update)Nan Rich responded this afternoon to Crist's pick of Taddeo-Goldstein, saying, "Because he’s been a life-long Republican, Charlie Crist might be excused for not knowing that Democrats typically don’t choose a running mate until they win the nomination.
What can’t be excused is his refusal to engage in the democratic process in a serious way. Crist’s record is in stark contrast to the values of the Democratic Party. He is anti-choice, has consistently opposed equality for the LGBT community, expanded private school vouchers, given the NRA a blank check, and appointed some of the most right-wing judges in Florida. More than 89% of Florida Democrats want a gubernatorial primary debate to discuss these issues.
Today Crist answered a question few voters are interested in. It is well past time for him to commit to debates and answer the questions voters do care about."