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Florida Democrats consider campaigns in next gubernatorial race

Florida Democrats are shaping up their top candidates to take on Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in the next gubernatorial election, but it could be a challenge with only one Democrat holding statewide office.

Name recognition alone makes former Gov. Charlie Crist (D) a leading contender, and he told us Thursday he is considering coming full circle.

Once the Republican governor of Florida, Crist now is open to the idea of running as a Democrat, and the list of prospects does not stop with him.

Once a rising star Republican, a hug with former President Barack Obama in 2009 here in Fort Myers changed Crist’s political life.

“They said, well, you know, he’s a Democrat,’” Crist recalled. “I said, he’s the president of the United States of America, and he’s coming here to help Florida.”

Crist is now a Democrat and a Florida U.S. congressman from Pinellas County, and he told us he’s considering getting his old job back.

“I just feel like we can use better leadership in Tallahassee,” Crist said. “It’s been rather disappointing.”

Crist may have name recognition, but that won’t stop other Democrats from making a run.

Florida U.S. Congresswoman Val Demings (D) from Orlando, a house manager during former President Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial, is considered a rising star.

We asked Crist if her possible plans for office in the future would impact any of his decisions, and he said they would not.

“Vice versa isn’t in my mind,” Crist explained. “It’s either for governor or re-election to Congress for me … That’s where I am.”

Then, there’s Florida’s only statewide elected Democrat, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. She posted a campaign-like video this week. While Fried is not ready to do anything official, the video puts her in position to make an announcement.

We asked Crist whether his former boss, prominent attorney John Morgan, might consider a run for governor. Crist said Morgan thought about it the last time around but now is encouraging Crist to run.

Reporter:Morgan Rynor
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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