Is Charlie Crist Florida's Next Governor?

Is Charlie Crist Florida's Next Governor?

Days before this past November's election at a cramped deli off Biscayne Boulevard in Aventura, a new yellow Camaro glided into the parking lot and hummed to a rest. An Obama 2012 sticker was pasted onto its bumper. The driver was five hours late.

But inside Mo's Bagels, none of the patrons seemed to care. They crowded around the window, watching.

The man stepped out of the convertible wearing a neon-orange tie. He had Oompa Loompa skin, Anderson Cooper hair, and a Keanu Reeves chin. He smoothed his eyebrows, lacquered his lips in classic Chap Stick, tucked and retucked his blue button-down to accentuate his size 34 waist, and popped in an Altoid. He smiled — a big, goofy one — and in the afternoon sun, his silver coif glowed like ice. It was difficult to look at anything else.

"Hi, how are you?" the hair asked a tall man at the eatery's entrance. "I'm Charlie Crist. But call me Charlie." He didn't wait for a response. He sashayed inside and abruptly turned. "Hey," he said, touching the tall man on the shoulder. The lines around his brown eyes wrinkled. "Let's have some fun," he winked.

Dozens of eyes latched onto the hair. "Hi! My name's Charlie!" he said, thrusting a tanned hand at the diner's swarthy owner, Paul Kruss.

"I already know," responded Kruss, but before he could say more, Crist was on to the next encounter: "Hi! My name's Charlie!"

"You got to wonder," Kruss turned away, muttering, "Who is this guy?"

Next, Crist spotted a gray-haired woman slurping matzo ball soup. He nestled in beside her, put his arm around her slight shoulders, and leaned in close — very close. He smelled of breath mints and Brut aftershave. He asked if she'd voted yet, and the woman became briefly confused. There was an awkward moment. "Are you running for something?" she asked. Crist said he wasn't and laughed, but no one else did.

Charlie Crist was lying. At the time, he'd been running for governor for weeks, though that fact became fully clear only this past December, when he completed his switch from the Republican to the Democratic Party and took to Capitol Hill in Washington to excoriate Gov. Rick Scott for voter suppression.

Today, with a very powerful friend in resurgent President Barack Obama and recent polls showing he'd trounce every other gubernatorial contender — including Scott — Crist couldn't be more back. What's more, his proclivity for moderation, once a profound weakness that ruined his 2010 U.S. Senate campaign, has now made him a rare and dangerous politician — so much so that Crist might eventually achieve more than a Tallahassee mansion. Perhaps, academics and pollsters contend, he's heading for a prestigious diplomatic post. Or even, with the nation ravenous for centrality, a spot on a ticket to the White House.

But all of that hinges on how well Crist reintroduces himself to the state's voters. Rumors that he was gay and hiding it wounded him politically years ago, and his recent departure from the Republican Party made him appear both opportunistic and wishy-washy. Now a two-month New Times investigation has uncovered misrepresentations and unseemly facts from the once-and-future candidate's childhood and young adulthood.

Crist wasn't a star football player, as he and his father have implied, New Times has found. And perhaps even more surprising, his father and closest confidant, Dr. Charles Crist, was a segregationist who — despite a kind heart — resigned abruptly from the Pinellas County School Board in 1977 following a controversial tenure. Charlie Crist was also a mediocre student and, according to his ex-wife, an inept husband who dissolved the marriage after only eight months and disappeared.

For his part, Crist defends his father and derides the significance of the questionable claims. Indeed, as he aims to return to prominence, greater obstacles lie ahead. To win, he must convince voters he is not only truthful but also better-suited for the job than Rick Scott. Crist is a gifted politician, with both Clintonian affability and Reagan-like intuition, but even he might not be able to pull off this next trick.

Can he make voters forget the past?


On a Friday night in late 1973, Charlie Crist, age 17 and floppy-haired, stretched a white number 12 jersey over his six-foot, 170-pound frame and loped onto a brightly lit sandlot that players called the "dust bowl." His St. Pete High Green Devils were about to take on their local rival, Dunedin High.

While the teams warmed up, Crist's dad, Charles, arrived. He was late and angry. Hook-nosed and dark-haired, he bulldozed onto the field and up to a young assistant coach named David Grassman. A school board member of immense local power and respect, Charles had a hand on his hip and a sharp question, Grassman recalls. Why, he asked, wasn't Gatorade in the coolers as he'd ordered?

Grassman, who was 25 years old and unaware of Dr. Crist's influence, didn't like the interruption. He yelled, "If he wants Gatorade in the coolers, let him do it!" But Charles Crist did much more than that. The next day, the doctor dispatched a letter to Grassman's boss, calling him "defiant," and Grassman was fired soon after.

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17 comments
run.randrand
run.randrand

OHHHHHHHH-MYYYYYYY-GAWWWWWWWD-IS THERE NO ONE WITH A STETSON UNIVERSITY EDUCATION THAT CAN RUN-OF ANY QUALITY AND EXPERIENCE??!

jkarnas
jkarnas

However, he misread the mood that year when he abandoned the state Senate for a run at U.S. Congress. The immensely popular Bob Graham crushed him by 26 points.

 Terrence another mistake here- Crist was the only republican with the guts to go up against Graham. His campaign was widely admired and it increased his name recognition. This move on his part was widely viewed as politically smart. Setting him up for future runs. I have never read an analysis such as yours that the Senate run was a mistake.  Did anyone edit this article?

jkarnas
jkarnas

Wow. Terrence you completely missed Governor Crist's climate and energy leadership. Two international summits right here in Miami. Made Florida world leader in solar. Passed a comprehensive energy bill with huge investments in research, energy efficiency and renewables. It was a major part of his term. Malpractice on your part to miss that in your 1000 word article. 9 paragraphs in his first state of the state address to climate change. Disappointed in the New Times for this hit job.

daylos
daylos

Crist signed the NRA legalized murder bill - SYG into law.  He needs to correct this law.  REPEAL SYG!

AndyMikel
AndyMikel

If any of you is getting bored go to Google and search "gay3ty" and enjoy.

FallSapphire
FallSapphire

He is beautiful. But the most impressive part about him was his constituent relations. His staff actually answered the phone, resolved problems and returned phone calls.

I preside and awesome. This article gives me a little pause in my enthusiasm and makes me more critical of Rubio and less critical of Meek.

maximumrider
maximumrider

i've been hoping he won run as a democrat against scott every since he announced he switched parties

CravinMoorehead
CravinMoorehead

"He smelled of breath mints and Brut aftershave."  How do you know, hack?  Did you crawl up close to Charlie?  Did he reject you.....again.?

You sound jealous.

sar427
sar427

Charlie Crist has to have a crimminal record in order to run for office in this state it is required

sar427
sar427

they die when they have been pissed on for so long

CravinMoorehead
CravinMoorehead

He was sitting in a booth, stupid.  Can't you read?  If you can't, that would make you a typical republican.

All that is left of the republican party are the very, very rich and those like @Bebep, stupid enough to vote republican and against their own best interests.

Bebep
Bebep

@CravinMooreheadAt least you follow orders well and kept up the crazy hahahah

Keep raging hard, and yeah I'm not calling everything crazy... just you. Still not a republican.

CravinMoorehead
CravinMoorehead

@Bebep  - you lying sack of shit.  YOU ARE A DELUSIONAL republican.

You call EVERYTHING crazy that isn't reich-wing.

BTW - I said that you weren't one of the rich ones and you just proved it to be so.

Now, be nice to the orderly and behave yourself.

Bebep
Bebep

@CravinMoorehead Just cause you sound like a raging lunatic, doesn't make me a republican.

Keep up the crazy!

 
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