Leon County Schools Superintendent Jackie Pons held a kick-off for his local re-election bid at a fundraiser Monday night, reports the News Service of Florida. And the Democrat had plenty of support from statewide names in attendance — including former Gov. Charlie Crist and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham. Asking them to the event might have helped draw the public; it certainly helped draw the media, which got a few moments with Crist, Graham and Pons.
Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the questions turned to Crist and the former Republican-turned-unaffiliated governor’s plans for the next few years. A reporter asked Crist what he was up to by showing up at the event. “I’m up to helping a great man,” Crist responded. “It’s that simple. It really is.”
That wasn’t the last time the press tried — largely unsuccessfully — to get a man widely rumored to be a possible Democratic candidate for his old job in 2014 to talk about his political prospects.
Reporter: It might look to some people like you’re laying the groundwork for doing something in the future –
Crist: I’m laying the groundwork for nothing, except making sure this guy gets re-elected, and I know he will.
(An interlude with a few other questions)
Reporter: Sen. Graham, he’s a Democratic icon. If you ever heard Mr. Pons speak at local Democratic club meetings — he’s a local Democratic guy. So, you’re hanging out with Democrats –
Crist: Nothing wrong with that. I’m hanging out with my fellow Floridians.
Former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, standing beside Crist and Pons, also pitched for the current superintendent and the significance of a local race that brought out a lot of Democratic heavy-hitters, including former Chief Financial Officer and 2010 gubernatorial nominee Alex Sink. (Of course, Graham is not widely expected to run for anything else.)
“Leon County is not only the school district for the thousands of children and families in this community,” Graham said. “It sets a standard for the whole state. I think it is one of the most important school districts, in terms of its leadership, for quality education in Florida.”
For his part, Pons returned the compliments from Crist and Graham.
“There’s not a day that goes by that we don’t wish that we were back in the days when we had them leading our state, leading our nation and putting education back up front where it need to be,” he said.
It might not quite stack up to an endorsement if one of those men decides to try to get back to leading the state. But it’s pretty close.