Charlie Crist Florida Gubernatorial Candidate Charlie Crist promises "a Florida for all."
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Calling Florida Gov. DeSantis “a radical sort of mini-Trump,” the US representative prepares to run against the Republican incumbent.

Early in May, Florida Congressman Charlie Crist became the first Democrat to officially announce his run against Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2022. Since he made the announcement, the US representative for the state’s 13th Congressional District has been a strong vocal opponent of the Republican incumbent, going as far as calling DeSantis “a radical sort of mini-Trump.”

“Florida needs a governor who has a caring heart, understands people, and doesn’t try to suppress the vote,” Crist told The Americano.

Crist’s vision for Florida, he says, runs completely counter to DeSantis’ in fundamental ways. For example, Senate Bill 90—DeSantis’ new voting law, which some critics have called “Jim Crow 2.0” because it will make it harder to vote, particularly for people of color—is one of the many ways Crist believes DeSantis has failed Floridians.

Defending Democracy

“The irony is that after the last election, the governor said we had a great election, and then they come back and make all these changes, such as having less drop boxes in minority parts of the state. There are groups that are suing, saying it’s unconstitutional, so that may take care of itself in the judicial system,” says Crist, adding that if that were not the case, “if elected governor I will reverse that law and make sure we don’t have that on the books anymore. It’s the right thing to do to support democracy.”

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Another way DeSantis has let down Floridians, says Crist, is by refusing to expand Medicaid, in essence refusing federal funding that would allow up to 1 million Floridians to find affordable health care.

“Expanding Medicaid costs Floridians practically nothing, because the federal government provides the lion’s share of the funding. With the change of the governor, those people would be able to get health care. And that affects a disproportionate share of our minority citizens in Florida in a positive way,” says Crist.

Another pillar of Crist’s platform is education. Crist, who served as the 44th governor of Florida from 2007 to 2011, calls himself the product of public education and says he is dismayed that Florida ranks 49th in education funding in the nation.

“I’m a public school graduate myself. I believe in education. I believe it’s an equal opportunity provider in our society, and what lifts people up,” says the former commissioner of education for Florida and the proud grandson of immigrants from Greece and Lebanon. “They didn’t have much of an education, but they made sure that their seven children did, and my father became a medical doctor. We can do so much supporting our school system and our teachers!”

Choosing Common Sense

Crist is also a committed proponent of gun safety, citing the almost 300 mass shootings in America so far this year. In Miami-Dade County alone, there were two assault killings in the past month. For this reason, Crist believes there is an urgent need to ban assault weapons and to conduct better background checks.

“I believe in the Second Amendment, but I also believe in utilizing common sense. And our governor has not supported those new measures that would make Florida a safer place to live.”

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Climate change is another issue that he sees as central to Floridians, and to make a positive change in the state’s climate policies, he thinks that “number one, we have to believe in the science, and understand that because of the topography of our state, that we are a peninsula, it’s hard to imagine another state being more susceptible to rising sea levels.”

Crist says that it’s critically important to address climate change and reduce carbon emissions, and to have power generated by renewables like water, wind, and solar power.

“In Florida, our environment and our economy are inextricably linked together. People come here because [it’s] beautiful, because we have wonderful beaches, so we have to fight to protect [our state] and address climate change now. We are running out of time.”

A Misleading Message

As to the relentless messaging by the GOP that Democrats are akin to Communists or left-wing radicals, Crist has a clear message:

“It is very misleading, and I think it’s intentionally done. And it’s just not true. I am a compassionate capitalist. I believe that the system of our economy gives all people an opportunity to be able to succeed. Capitalism in America can make dreams come true,” affirms the candidate, who is in favor of raising the minimum wage to $15.

Crist also says that from what he sees in the press, DeSantis’ policies are all about his interest in running for president as a Republican in 2024.

“It seems to me that the things he’s doing are playing to the hard, hard right, and trying to get that Republican nomination instead of serving well as Florida governor,” he states, promising that, if elected, “I will be a governor that will create a Florida for all. That’s how you turn things around. Elections matter.”