Charlie Crist will run against Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, in November after defeating state agriculture commissioner Nikki Fried in Tuesday’s Democratic primary.
Crist, a former Republican governor of Florida who switched parties and became a Democratic congressman, ran a campaign touting his legislative experience and opposition to DeSantis’s 15-week abortion ban.
Crist promised in his victory speech in St. Petersburg that if elected, he would sign an executive order repealing the abortion law on his first day in office.
And he vowed to derail the White House ambitions of “want tobe dictator” DeSantis, who is widely expected to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024. In Florida, DeSantis has signed a slew of culture-war legislation targeting LBGTQ+ rights and “woke” corporations.
“Our basic liberties are literally on the ballot,” Crist said. “The right of a woman to vote on the ballot.” Democracy at the ballot box. Your minority rights are on the ballot.
“Make no mistake about it, that’s what’s at stake in this election, because this guy wants to be President of the United States of America, and everyone knows it.”
“However, when we beat him on November 8th, that show will be over.”
Crist led Fried, a progressive and the only statewide elected Democrat currently in office, by roughly 60% to 35% with less than 15% of votes still to be counted. Turnout, however, was far lower than four years ago, with a lack of enthusiasm among Democrats being one of the main concerns of party officials.
Crist said in his final pre-election press conference that he planned to attend a “unity rally” with his defeated opponent in south Florida later this week.
Their focus will shift to deposing DeSantis, whom Crist has dubbed Florida’s “absentee” governor for constantly attacking Joe Biden’s policies and appearing to be more concerned with out-of-state fundraising for a national campaign than with domestic issues.
“He’s campaigning this last weekend in New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and I think another state, but he’s been doing that for a year, maybe more,” Crist said.
Maxwell Frost, a 25-year-old progressive endorsed by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Pramila Jayapal, a leading House progressive from Washington state, won a competitive and crowded Democratic primary for the House seat Demings vacated.
Laura Loomer, a self-described Islamophobe, election denier, and conspiracy theorist, narrowly lost a Republican primary for another central Florida House seat to incumbent Dan Webster.