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Tuesday, Jun 19, 2018
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Henderson: Is Crist running or tiptoeing for governor?

Um, Charlie?

Charlie Crist?

You are still running for governor, right? I was just kind of wondering because the campaign seems to be under way, and you have been somewhat muted — especially compared with Gov. Rick Scott. He has been in the Tampa area so much he may have to declare residency and start paying property taxes.

Scott was here again Wednesday, visiting All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg to announce $80 million in funding for graduate medical school programs.

That was roughly the time people might have been absorbing the news that Crist was looking for a new campaign manager and press secretary — both suddenly left the campaign, without immediate explanation.

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And then there is Florida's senior U.S. senator, who sounds like he could be a candidate for governor while insisting (sort of) that he is not.

Bill Nelson, the state's highest-ranking Democrat, called a news conference Tuesday in Tampa to blast the latest move out of Tallahassee to make it harder for Florida residents to vote.

In case you missed it, Secretary of State Ken Detzner recently decreed voters can no longer drop off absentee ballots at satellite offices. Detzner said ballots returned in person must be taken to the main supervisor of elections offices.

He has since retreated from that position in the face of defiance from Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark, but the issue did cause a mighty stir. All this just happened (cough, cough) to coincide with the primary next month in St. Petersburg to help determine who will succeed the late Republican icon C.W. Bill Young in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Democrat Alex Sink figures to be a strong challenger for that long-held GOP seat.

Red meat!

“What the government of the state ought to be doing is making it easier to vote while ensuring the integrity of the ballot,” Nelson said.

He added, “Clearly, to me, it's a motive to try and suppress the vote.”

There were plenty of good sound bites and visuals to back up Nelson's point.

And where is Crist on this issue? Let's go to the land of 140 characters or fewer, where Crist tweeted, “This relentless attack on the people has to stop. The voters are in charge.”


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By the way, Nelson was asked point-blank Wednesday whether he will run for governor. His answer was classic political-speak: “I have no plans to run for governor. I have no intentions to run for governor.”

He did not say “absolutely not!” So, yes, we have no denial.

It's another potential complication for Crist, the ex-Republican looking for love as a new Democrat. Scott is getting lots of free media time right now and is gaining in the polls, while candidate Crist stays mostly to Facebook and Twitter.

With his campaign manager gone and Nelson's shadow a persistent presence for now, Crist might need more face time with the electorate than Facebook. Voters can be funny like that.

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