Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

In a nutshell, why I think Charlie Crist lost the Pinellas GOP’s straw ballot

in Peter/The Bay and the 'Burg by

Update: 9:53 a.m. – Crist brushes off straw poll loss:

“It’s such a small number compared to the electorate,” he said.

Crist said he probably wouldn’t have touted the results even if he had won.

“I touted some of them in 1998 when I won and I know what that result was (he lost to Democratic Sen. Bob Graham), so I don’t put much stock in them,” he said

Let’s not forget how ecstatic Crist was in 2006 when won the official endorsement of the Pinellas County Republican Party:

“Wow. What can I say about Pinellas?” asked Crist. “”I love you. I absolutely love you.”

Since Charlie Crist was elected, he alienated former PCREC Chair Tony DiMatteo and many other local Republicans irked by Crist’s questionable appointments, such as the when Crist selected Democrat Jack Hellinger over loyal Republican and straight-shooter Tommy Minkoff. Crist’s receent appoint of Minkoff to an open judicial seat was suppose to soothe some of the bad feelings felt among local activists, but these activist smell blood. Crist did do right by JJ Beyrouti, appointing him to the Pinellas County Housing Authority, but that was only a start.

Recently, Gary Fineout’s wrote an excellent piece about titled “So where did it start to go wrong for Charlie Crist?” in which he makes the argument that if you look closely (Crist’s) press coverage began to change during the summer of 2008. This is when Crist went on a trade mission to Europe and Russia where he did things like discuss climate change with the Prince of Wales. At a time when the state’s economy was already souring, this was the first time that it was suggested that Crist’s political radar had malfunctioned.

I have to disagree with Gary, who is taking a Florida-centric view of Crist’s career. The wheels started coming off for Charlie when he snubbed DiMatteo and the rest of his GOP allies in Pinellas. After he was elected, it was as if Charlie had grown up in Fort Lauderdale, rather than St. Pete. (And I have a theory about that too. About why Charlie seems not to care for many of his ol’ friends from the ‘burg. It’s because Charlie knows WE KNOW the truth about Charlie. To many of those in Tampa Bay, they view Charlie as the good-time guy who trolled at The Big Catch. If you knew Charlie then, it’s hard to envision him now as Governor. He’s the guy who failed the Bar, who worked as a lawyer for minor league baseball, who Martin Dyckman made fun of on the op-ed pages of the Times) and who lost his first campaign to Senator Jeanne Malchon. It’s for reasons like those that Crist did not win a majority of his hometown’s voters.

But if St. Pete wasn’t with Charlie, the Pinellas GOP always was with him. That’s why I can’t tell you how much it hurt Charlie when he turned his back on his local allies. But Charlie will find out next weekend during the most difficult 48 Hours of his political career.

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.

Latest from Peter

Go to Top