Crist hits Jacksonville to kick off campaign for Florida governor

Charlie Crist says he didn’t spend enough time in north Florida when he faced Rick Scott in the 2014

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, who served as Florida governor for a single term before running other offices, is seeking the state’s highest office once again — this time as a Democrat.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two days after announcing his third run for governor, former Florida governor and current congressman Charlie Crist is stumping for votes in Northeast Florida.

Crist told News4Jax on Thursday he didn’t spend enough time in north Florida when he faced Rick Scott in the 2014 governor’s race and he wants voters here to know he will fight for them.

“I think it’s important to realize if you want to be the governor of the people of this state, you got to go to them. You got to look them in the eye. You got to explain why you’re doing this, why in your heart you think it’s right, that I think it’s right because I know Florida deserves better,” Crist said.

Crist visited the News4Jax studio after he met with Jacksonville supporters at the Pig Barbecue, The Potters House and the Soul Food Bistro.

Congressman Charlie Crist joins News4Jax to talk about his bid to become the next Florida governor. (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

Crist said he’s running because he thinks Florida needs change. He said he will fight for Medicare expansion, banning assault rifles, legalizing Marijuana and increasing the minimum wage. And he says he’s a believer in science, climate change and the right to vote.

“Florida is so susceptible to climate change, rising sea levels I mean my goodness, we’re a peninsula,” Crist said. “You know you go out to Jax Beach or Ponte Vedra, you know, you look at the rivers that we have, the St. Johns, we’re surrounded by water. So, rising sea levels are a huge issue for us, addressing climate change is a fundamentally important thing that we must, and have to do as Floridians.”

Crist was a Republican when he served as governor from 2006 to 2010 but is now running as a Democrat.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, Congresswoman Val Demings, and former Congresswoman Gwen Graham are frequently mentioned as potential Democratic candidates for governor as well.

Crist says there is one thing that clearly sets him apart from his competition.

“I‘ve got experience,” Crist said. “And I think experience is more valued now probably than it was maybe four or five years ago. We just finished having a president that had no experience, it was all on-the-job training and it looked like it every single day with the tweets and whatever all that was.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis has criticized Crist for once being a Republican, an independent and now a Democrat, saying Crist voted with Nancy Pelosi 100 percent of the time.

Voters will make their first choices in this race, with the primary in August of next year.

About the Author:

Tarik anchors the 4, 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. weekday newscasts and reports with the I-TEAM.