Charlie Crist cancels on Democratic fundraiser, still is talk of the party

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Former Gov. Charlie Crist may not have been there, but he still was the talk of the party.

Due to a family emergency, the Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat cancelled as keynote speaker of the Volusia County Democratic Party fundraiser Saturday night, according to Chris Graham in the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Even though he was not around, Crist still was the main topic of the evening as the likely frontrunner to unseat incumbent Gov. Rick Scott. Although he has not yet announced plans to enter the 2014 race, many in attendance at were excited at the possibility that Crist would bond a deeply divided Democratic Party in Florida.

“I think there’s so many problems in this state, we can unite under anyone,” said Daytona Beach State Rep. Dwayne Taylor, who filled in as keynote speaker.

Taylor added that Crist’s history as governor gives him a distinct advantage in the race.

Crist could not make the event at the Shores Resort & Spa, which had attracted several hundred Democratic Party members. He was in California to be with his sister, who had surgery to remove a tumor.

So far, former State Senator and Minority Leader Nan Rich is the only declared Democratic candidate in the gubernatorial race; if Crist officially enters the race, he would immediately jump to a ten-point lead. A recent Quinnipiac poll puts Crist at 47 percent, ahead of Scott with 37 percent.

Some party regulars believe Crist must declare his candidacy soon, if he does at all.

“It’s really too early, and in some ways it’s too late,” said Dr. T. Wayne Bailey, state committee member for the county’s Democratic Party. “If you’re not revved up now about a campaign, it’s going to be difficult to get into. I would think if Mr. Crist is going to run, he will be apt to move out in September.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, 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.