Crist also likes acting. Soon after taking the job, he released commercials, some of which bear no relevance to personal-injury litigation. In one, he exalts the sacrifice of our "unsung heroes": police and correctional officers. In another, he lionizes one more key constituency: "Teachers are overworked, underpaid, and, for some reason, never fully appreciated," says Crist, looking earnest. "To our teachers, you have our deepest gratitude. Thank a teacher."

Next came the billboards, dozens of them along Florida's Turnpike and elsewhere, showing a beaming Crist reminding the public, among other things, not to text and drive.

The job has allowed Crist to retain his celebrity while stitching together a nascent network of fundraisers. "If Charlie runs for governor," Morgan says, "I'll be extremely active in fundraising for him."

His fame, though, sometimes lures unwanted attention. In December 2011 at a New York Supreme Court hearing, Todd Rome chanted at him: "Big dick. You're a big dick. Big dick."

Rome had sued his ex, Carole, for abandoning their children. He claimed she'd been contractually bound to provide child support and emotional care for their children, and she'd reneged. New York Supreme Court Judge Matthew Cooper, however, disagreed. "I can't make her visit her children," he said, according to the New York Post.

Afterward, Mark Heller, Rome's celebrity lawyer, laid it on thick for reporters. "Mrs. Crist's purported heartless disconnect from both her devastated teenage daughters... shocked the good conscience of all courtroom observers and drew genuine tears of pain," he told the Post.

But hiccups have never derailed Crist. And they didn't this time. His moment arrived this past August when the Democrats invited him to deliver an address at their national convention. Then he stumped all over the nation for Barack Obama.

The president took notice. Less than 48 hours after he was re-elected, amid the parties, Benghazi controversy, and fiscal cliff apoplexy, Obama found time to call Crist on his cell in St. Petersburg. While Crist adopts a nonchalant attitude when telling this story, the conversation was anything but ordinary. He might be the only Florida politician to have received such attention.

"He said, 'Thank you for all of your work.' He expressed frustration over the problems we had with early voting and asked whether there was anything I could do about it."

Crist said there was, and it was clear what he meant.


At exactly 6 o'clock on a Wednesday morning this past November, Crist, clutching a small white towel, steps into an elevator at his St. Pete apartment building. He's clad in light-blue pleated shorts, a yellow T-shirt, and teal flip-flops. He is shaved and showered, and the elevator is heavy with the smell of Brut. Crist has a gym date.

The elevator ascends to the top floor, and the ex-governor gets down to business. But even at the workout's zenith, after he has bench-pressed 170 pounds and worked his triceps on the pulley machine, he doesn't sweat. His face's bronzed sheen gives way to an angry red, but not one bead of perspiration appears.

After putting in 15 minutes of weight work, Crist lowers himself into the rooftop heated swimming pool. Then he crawls back and forth, back and forth, 15 seconds off, 45 seconds on. Finally, emerging from the deep, he heads downstairs, buys a Tampa Bay Times, and, still in teal flip-flops, flutters to a Starbucks for a caramel pecan tart latte. "An indulgence," he sighs.

The Tampa Bay Times carries a story that day about a new bill entering the state legislature to expand Florida's early voting. This intrigues Crist. He calls the tactics that Rick Scott pursued to dissuade turnout "uncon­scionable." His eyes are electric when he says this.

Just as he once attracted attention to prisoner chain gangs and controversy over Florida electricity, voter suppression has become his new issue. This aligns the "people's governor" again with the people — and against Scott. The public furor over this past fall's vote, along with the fact that Crist extended early voting in 2008, might be enough to launch him back to Tallahassee.

In mid-December he officially registered as a Democrat, and five days later he materialized at a U.S. Senate hearing in Washington. Wearing a pregnant expression and a navy pinstriped suit with a gold-and-blue tie, he lampooned the current governor. "The outcome of [Scott's] decisions was quite obvious," Crist said. "Florida, which four years earlier was a model for efficiency, became once again a late-night TV joke."

Though such signs point to another run at governor, what remains unclear, however, is whether Crist will win. How long will the early-voting calamity resonate? What will the money-laundering case against Jim Greer, the Crist-appointed and allegedly corrupt Republican chairman, shake loose about Crist?

Besides, if Crist's loss to Marco Rubio proves anything, it's the capricious nature of primaries. They're not won with fame but by an active party nucleus. "There's a difference of opinion between longtime party activists and the casual voters," says Susan MacManus, a University of South Florida political scientist. "And someone who is a longtime activist in the Democratic Party will be resentful of him stepping in."

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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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