Tampa Bay Times gives Charlie Crist first newspaper endorsement of governor’s race

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Charlie Crist received his first newspaper endorsement in his bid to return as Florida governor, when the Tampa Bay Times editorial board announced on Friday that it is backing the former Republican, who is seeking his old job as a Democrat.

As Crist prepared for his first televised debate appearance against incumbent Gov. Rick Scott, broadcast Friday evening on Telemundo, the Times released this endorsement:

“For all of its challenges, Florida remains a place of promise and possibility, great resilience and untapped potential, entrepreneurial spirit and remarkable diversity. Charlie Crist understands this state and cares about its people and their aspirations, their struggles to make ends meet and their dreams for the future. His return to the Governor’s Mansion would advance Florida’s best interests and send a message that the concerns of average Floridians are more important than big money and rigid ideology.”

Although editors at the Times admit the past four years held economic and business growth, it was largely from improvements in the national economy, rather than anything directly credited to Scott. In fact, several key government priories have eroded in the last four years under a governor and Legislature more interested in the well-being of Florida business than that of individual Floridians.

Citing Crist’s priorities in education, consumer protection, the environment and access to health care, the contrast with Scott makes the choice for Florida’s next governor a simple one. Crist would also “look out for Tampa Bay in ways Scott has not,” another benefit that has not escaped the notice of the St. Petersburg-based newspaper.

Yes, Crist is not perfect; he is more of a “big idea” person than someone who suffers details of public policy. His positions are (famously) apt to shift with political winds.

However, Crist also is an advocate for the average Floridian, and is not afraid to stand up to the powerful. Those alone make him a counterweight to the GOP-led Legislature, something needed right now in Tallahassee.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.