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#13 on list of Tampa Bay’s Most Powerful Politicians — Charlie Crist

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Charlie Crist, the 60-year-old former Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat, returned to public office earlier this year, after defeating incumbent David Jolly in a bitter contest for Congress in Florida’s 13th Congressional District.

In serving in Washington for the first time after a lifetime in Florida politics, the St. Petersburg native had a rocky transition to working in Washington.

Crist missed one of his first votes, condemning the United Nations for a resolution perceived to be anti-Israel. A few weeks later his head of outreach, Vito Sheeley, left Crist to work somewhat bizarrely for Jolly.

Then came news that he was divorcing his wife Carole, after an eight-year run.

Coincidentally or not, Crist seemed immediately afterward to have gotten his act together and started turning his press coverage around, most notably earning plaudits for hosting a four-hour town hall meeting on the USFSP campus in February.

“The million-dollar question is can be content in Congress, or will the siren of the campaign trail prove to be enticing and see him run statewide once again,” asks strategist and analyst Barry Edwards.

One thing that Crist has carried with him is the persona of working collegially with his colleagues. Criticized by some Democrats for not being sufficiently critical of Donald Trump, Crist joined some of the members of his freshman class in co-signing on to a ‘Commitment to Civility’ pledge.

Joe Henderson’s Take

“Everyone knows how likable Charlie is, and I suppose it’s hard to say a sitting U.S. Congressman shouldn’t be ranked so high. I’ll say it anyway. We all know that he is doing better after a slow start, and I’ll cut him some slack because he was going through a divorce at the time. Even with all that, the news that chief antagonist Rick Baker is running for mayor (instead of Crist’s seat in Congress) means he’ll likely have his job for as long as he wants it. The big question is, how long will that be?”

For a complete explanation of how this list was created and who made up the panel that amassed it, please read here.


Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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