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Charlie Crist (D. FL) is ready to fight for his old job:

Charlie Crist was in fine form at a hometown fundraiser last night at his sister's waterfront home, sounding utterly contemptuous of Rick Scott, primed for a tough campaign, and, as always, perfectly comfortable pressing people to write the largest possible campaign checks. (Yes, he invited us to come after we reported his campaign was barring reporters).

The Republican-turned-Democrat made a point of reminding the more than 100 people gathered on Snell Isle that the cap on campaign contributions had increased from $500 to $3,000 on Nov. 1, and urging them to donate as much as they possibly can to combat the $100-million Gov. Scott's campaign has said it intends to spend.

"If you continue to load my gun, I will fire the cannon," Crist said.

He noted too that people can write unlimited checks to a seperate campaign committee.

"Steve, I'm talking to you," Crist said to a chuckling Steve Yerrid, a wealthy trial attorney from Tampa. "To those who have much, much is expected."

Crist scoffed at those calling him an opportunist, saying he was loving his life - making good money, spending plenty of time with Carole, his wife of five years - but finally could not stand what he was seeing from Rick Scott. - Tampa Bay Times, 11/13/13

And Crist also compared Scott to a notorious criminal:

Political candidates typically refrain from mentioning their opponent by name, but Crist said he won't hesititate to use the words "Rick Scott" - because of the visceral negative reaction those words draw from so many Floridians. "We need somebody back that has a heart and a soul and actually cares about people."

He also made clear that he won't hesitate to bring up Scott controversial record in the private sector, where he become a multi-millionaire leading the Columbia/HCA hospital chain that paid a record, $1.7-billion fine for Medicare fraud. In one deposition, Scott invoked the Fifth Amendment 75 times, to avoid answering questions.

"People like Al Capone do that," Crist said. "And they definitely don't get to be goveror. The governor of Illinois maybe, but not Florida." - Miami Herald, 11/13/13

Emphasis Mine.

We're going to be seeing one nasty race between Crist and Scott (if Crist is the nominee).  And Crist has a veteran campaign team ready to help him win:

Running again for his old post with a new party affiliation, Crist is being embraced by another aspect of the president: former Florida campaign workers for Obama, who has twice carried the Sunshine State.

At least seven former Obama Florida campaign workers — from his pollster to a top political consultant to media experts to his fundraiser — now form the nucleus of Crist’s new campaign team.

And top Obama donors, pleased with Crist’s help on the campaign in 2012, are expected to follow.

“I’ve always liked Charlie Crist, even when he was a Republican,” said Ralph Patino, a Coral Gables lawyer who helped the Obama campaign’s Futuro Fund raise $30 million last year for Hispanic outreach.

Patino, who hosted a Friday Democratic National Committee fundraiser headlined by Obama, invited Crist the day before when the governor stopped by and asked for his support. - Miami Herald, 11/12/13

Of course it remains to be seen if Obama's support will help or hurt Crist:

Now that he’s running for governor of Florida as a Democrat, you have to wonder if Crist will want Obama to return the favor.

Normally, the endorsement of a sitting President would be awesome for any candidate. But these are not normal times.

Obama’s popularity ratings have cratered. The Obamacare rollout  has been a debacle.

Would  Crist want Obama’s public endorsement?

If Crist is a Democrat like he says he is, he should welcome an endorsement from the President, particularly when running against a guy like Gov. Scott who prints money. Crist should be glad to have Obama campaign for him. Crist should tout Obamacare.

That’s if he’s the REAL Democrat he claims to be.

If he stays away from Obama, if he is lukewarm on Obamacare, that will only encourage people to keep wondering about Crist as a flip-flopper, being that Crist changes parties as oftena s Taylor Swift changes boyfriends. - Sun-Sentinel, 11/13/13

We shall see.  Meanwhile, Scott nabbed himself a big endorsement for re-election:

Let there be no doubt whom Republicans will line up behind in the 2014 gubernatorial race. Former Gov. Jeb Bush today announced his endorsement of Fellow Republican Gov. Rick Scott in a race likely against another former Republican governor, Bush's successor and Scott's predecessor, Charlie Crist.

Crist is running now as a Democrat.

Here's what Bush said in a statement released this afternoon by the Republican Party of Florida:

"It's simple why I'm supporting Rick Scott. He campaigned on a platform of getting Florida's economy back on track, and has delivered on that promise.

"Governor Scott pledged to reinstate a business-friendly climate that fosters growth and job creation. Since taking office, Florida's unemployment rate has fallen 4.1 percent, more than 365,000 jobs have been created and taxes have been cut for families and businesses.

"While President Obama and Democrats in Congress are fixated on penalizing success, Governor Scott is pursuing policies to restore prosperity for more Floridians while prioritizing core state responsibilities, including increasing the state's investment in education.

"Rick Scott demonstrated leadership when Florida needed it most, and he is the best candidate to lead our state for four more years." - Orlando Sentinel, 11/12/13

Of course Democrats attacked Bush for supporting Scott:

Florida Democrats fired back at former Gov. Jeb Bush on Tuesday after he endorsed Gov. Rick Scott for re-election. The Florida Democratic Party issued a press release noting that Bush backed then-Attorney General Bill McCollum over Scott in 2010. The Florida Democrats tried to remind voters that Bush was critical of Scott using his personal fortune to bankroll his campaign.

“Three years ago, Jeb Bush showed better judgment than he did today,” said Allison Tant, the chairwoman of the Florida Democrats, on Tuesday.

Tant pointed to Scott’s record on education and noted he and Bush favored different policies, including splitting over Common Core.

“The so-called 'education governor’, who did not support Rick Scott for governor, has endorsed the governor most harmful to education in Florida history,” Tant said. “Even earlier this year, Rick Scott broke with Bush and sided with the tea party when he rejected key elements of Common Core. The fact is that Jeb Bush is putting pure partisan loyalty above what’s best for Florida." - Sunshine State News, 11/12/13

Now I know not all of you are on board with Crist being the frontrunner to take on Scott.  I understand and I will have a bigger diary out soon talking about that.  But in case you were wondering, Crist's people says Senator Bill Nelson (D. FL) isn't interested in running for governor:

Steve Schale, a top consultant for Charlie Crist, says that Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson personally told him he would not run for governor.

“I take Bill Nelson at his word,” Schale said. “He has said publically and told me privately that he would not run.”

The comments come after an MSNBC report that speculates Nelson could run for governor. The story includes quotes from Jim Davis, a former congressman and the Democrat's 2006 nominee for governor, and Bob Graham, a former Democratic governor and U.S. Senator.

Davis has been publically skeptical of Crist, who is a Republican-turned-Democrat. He told the Tampa Bay Times in May that he thinks Nelson would be a good candidate.

“I served with Sen. Nelson for years and I think he'd be a very strong, effective governor," he told the newspaper. "I think Charlie's going to run but I assume if Sen. Nelson runs he would be the nominee, and I think he would win."

Dan McLaughlin, a Nelson spokesman, said “I have nothing to report.” Nelson did say in May that "I have not plans to run for governor." - The Florida Times-Union, 11/13/13

I'll have more on this race soon but if you are interested in getting involved with Crist's campaign, you can do so here:

Originally posted to pdc on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 04:00 PM PST.

Also republished by The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party and DKos Florida.

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