First, the good news for Charlie Crist.
A new St. Pete Polls survey shows that the Democrat is maintaining his lead in the race for Florida’s 13th Congressional District over Republican David Jolly.
The bad news is that this lead is a narrow three points, giving him little margin for error during the final two weeks of the campaign.
But unforced errors seem to be something the Crist campaign can’t avoid lately.
Crist leads Jolly 48 to 45 percent with CD 13 voters. Two weeks ago, Crist was at 48 percent and Jolly was at 43 percent, so not much has changed. Voters in the district prefer Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump for president, 48 to 46 percent. In other words, the top of the ballot and down-ballot are in sync.
At this point, Crist has to be hoping to run out the clock. Two tempests in teapots are brewing in this high-profile race.
The first was Crist’s decision to skip a candidate forum on Saturday noted by the St. Petersburg branch of the NAACP. Crist is drawing fire from longtime critic Leslie Wimes, who notes that instead of attending this event (like Jolly did) Crist was putting up signs through the district.
“If he can’t bother to show up for us, why on earth would we show up for him?” Wimes asks.
Not watering the flowers at the NAACP seems like an unforced error that could have been avoided by Crist dropping in at the event, shaking hands with everyone in the room, and then asking who wanted to join him putting out signs.
The second — and probably more damaging — issue for Crist is the ad sponsored by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee juxtaposing Jolly with Donald Trump.
The ad drew criticism from the Tampa Bay Times editorial board over the weekend, saying it should be pulled because Jolly has never met Trump and has said he won’t vote for him for president.
After this editorial— and two weeks after the ad first aired — Crist called the DCCC and asked it to pull the spot.
“I wish I’d done it sooner,” Crist told the Tampa Bay Times’ Charlie Frago. “I was moved.”
Crist saying he’s been moved by an editorial reads like intellectual embezzlement. He should have called for the ad to be taken down two weeks or not at all. This unforced error will only serve to breathe life into Jolly’s campaign, which is running on fumes.
Crist played football in college. It’s time for him to dust off the playbook and run the ball until clock hits zero.