Charlie Crist Opens New Campaign Office in St. Pete

If Charlie Crist is re-elected governor this year he promises to reconvene two environmental summits that were held during the first two years of his previous term as governor. Crist made those comments in front of around 100 or so fervent supporters were on hand last Saturday to help launch a new St. Petersburg campaign office.

The beginning of Crist's governorship, in 2007 and 2008 respectively, saw him convening what were touted as being annual summits on global climate change. However, during his last two years as governor these global summits were halted without any fanfare or scrutiny. This past Saturday Crist unequivocally stated that he will reinstitute climate summits on the Everglades and climate change.

“It's so important," he said about those two issues. "And a lot of that is so interrelated to Florida's economy. I mean the environment and the economy are inextricably linked. They go hand and hand. Anybody who doesn't understand that shouldn't be governor of Florida.”

Supporters congregated in front of the Central Avenue locale as they coped with the hot and humid St. Petersburg si,,erweather. While people waited to see that candidate, others who had gathered were brandishing signs and chanting back and forth; “What do we want? A Scott-free Florida. When do we want it? Now.” After Crist's campaign manager and two others involved in Crist's run for governor spoke to the crowd; it was time for the man of the hour.

Around noon Crist climbed atop a soapbox shaped riser and began his impromptu speech. Although the occasion was designed to rally the troops for the impending primary election in August, Crist's speech was more than just an exercise in preaching to the converted. He outlined his stance on a number of issues which he stated are a clear departure from what the incumbent governor, Rick Scott, has put forth.

Crist stumped on several key issues facing Florida. He faulted Scott's $1.3 billion cut in education. He pledged to enact a more robust education budget as well as higher salaries for teachers. He also spoke to the devolution of woman's rights under Rick Scott; vowing to change that course. Crist chided the current governor for what he said was his disingenuous and deplorable record on job creation in the state.

Crist then went on to divulged a few planks in his political platform. Plans dealing with job creation which set him apart from Scott in their progressive outlook. He began by saying that creating jobs means being innovative and playing to Florida’s strengths. He elaborated:

“We are going to re-energize our space program with people like Elon Musk and Space X....(and) we're talking about helping out the people of Cuba; only 90 miles south of our Florida. If we get rid of the embargo and redevelop that island, (then) guess who gets to do it all? Florida.”

St. Petersburg city council member, Steve Kornell was one of several local politicians on hand. He is a school social worker and has been involved within the school system for years. Kornell said Crist’s track record bodes well for the future of education in Florida. He sees Crist as the antithesis of governor Scott as it relates to education in Florida.

“Governor Scott cut $1.3 billion and only put back a little; despite a rise in the number of pupils. We understand governor Scott cut education....That's a fact....He's not the education governor. Governor Crist stood for us.”

During his speech Crist didn’t mention anything about Amendment 2. That's the bill which could legalize medical marijuana in Florida. Rachel Dylas, with the advocacy group Medical Marijuana Tampa, said she has spoken many times to Crist in the past and is adamant that the future of prescription cannabis would be clearer with Crist as governor. She clarified that Scott is what she termed “wish-washy” on the subject. To her mind Scott has given no straightforward answer on his stance. Although she thinks even with Scott as governor the amendment will eventually be passed, she concedes it might take longer and could end up be watered down.

In August Crist will face Nan Rich and other Democrats in the primary election. The general election is in November.

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