Crist, Nelson assist Kriseman with Dem star power

With less than two weeks left till the crowded St, Pete mayoral primary, two popular Democrats rally support for incumbent Rick Kriseman.

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click to enlarge Crist, Nelson assist Kriseman with Dem star power
Terrence Smith

Thirteen days out from St. Petersburg's Mayoral Primary, incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman was joined by U.S. Representative and local political heavyweight Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) at the Allendale United Methodist Church Wednesday for a question-and-answer session to help stress Kriseman's message heading into Election Day.

“I am proud to endorse him,” said Crist, who also endorsed Krisman's first run for mayor in 2013. “He's a great friend, a great man and has done a great job. ... There is a significant choice to be made in this race. Rick Kriseman is the right choice.”

Vocal backing from Crist, whose district includes all of St. Pete, could help attract voters who are on the fence about voting for him or his toughest opponent.

Though he faces an uphill battle for reelection, namely against former Mayor Rick Baker, Kriseman appeared confident as he spoke to the crowd, touting the success of his first term in dropping the numbers of minors arrested, complaints against police officers and general crime when compared to Baker, his likely rival in the November runoff.

On Thursday morning, U.S. Senator from Florida Bill Nelson, a popular Democrat.

"I'm proud to support Mayor Rick Kriseman for reelection. He's built consensus on commonsense policies, like preparing for climate change, that have made St. Petersburg a better place to live for everyone. Rick is the kind of leader we need more of in Florida," Nelson said Thursday in a written statement.

At Wednesday's event, Kriseman said he's helped make St. Petersburg a more open and tolerant city.

“When you look at where we are today as a city, look at where we were ten years ago and look at us today," he said. "We are a very different place. We are a place where you see the pride flag fly over City Hall during Pride Week, the Carter G. Woodson flag to celebrate African American History Month. We are a city that celebrated its first Iftar dinner to celebrate the breaking of the fast during Ramadan, where 600 people of all faiths came together to celebrate peace and love. That is what St. Petersburg has become. We've become a city that doesn't just tolerate diversity but celebrates diversity. We've become a city that cares about everyone in our community and is trying to live up to our mission statement of being a city of opportunity where the sun shines on all who live work and play here.”

As those issues have gained a greater prominence in the days since Charlottesville, Crist also took the time to address the events.

“I think the activities of the white supremacists, the neo nazis, all these groups, these bigots, is horrible. It's not the tenets we were raised upon; we saw the opposite in Charlottesville," he said. "But I am confident, I am an optimist, that does not represent America. Certainly it does not represent the best of America.”

As for what he's up to in Washington, Crist spoke of the frustrations any Democrat in the House can expect, but was particularly positive on the topic of healthcare, lauding the defeat of attempts to repeal the ACA and even going so far as to answer a direct question on single payer as “something worth looking at.”

With Crist likely to stay in his constituency through the August Congressional recess, this likely isn't the last time we've seen him on the Kriseman campaign trail.

A visit from Nelson may be another matter.

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