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Crist turns up campaign for the Black vote

Democratic candidate for Gov. renews attacks with “Restore Cuts Tour”

Erick Johnson | 8/21/2014, noon
Trailing behind Gov. Rick Scott in most polls, Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist campaigned heavily in Miami’s Black community last ...
Charlie Crist, Democratic Gubernatorial candidate

Trailing behind Gov. Rick Scott in most polls, Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist campaigned heavily in Miami’s Black community last Friday with his “Restore Cuts Tour” to boost sagging numbers as the clock ticks down to Election Day.

With concerns about his political aspirations fading, Crist launched the campaign to regain the lead in opinion polls against his opponent. Traveling on a yellow school bus to highlight this election’s hottest issue, education, Crist campaigned in Liberty City before opening a new office in Miami Gardens, Florida’s largest Black city.

The new office is located at 4797 NW 183rd St. In May, Crist opened another campaign office at 675 NW 62nd St. in Liberty City.

With new voter registrations among Blacks still lower than needed to help him defeat Scott, Crist is campaigning harder for the Black vote. His efforts come after Scott gained momentum in several opinion polls over the summer. Critics said Scott’s appeal grew because of Crist’s low campaigning in the past several months. They also cite numerous attack ads Scott has launched against his opponent. Crist has declined requests for debates from his Democratic primary opponent, Nann Rich, an articulate legislator who has been steadily campaigning at special events in the Black community.

Despite her efforts, Rich has been viewed as an underdog who’s expected to lose to Crist in the primary on Aug. 26. Confident of his chances, Crist has already picked Annette Taddeo as his running mate to boost his chances against Scott in the race for governor.

THE LATINO VOTE

Since the race began, Scott has avoided the Black community altogether to campaign in Miami-Dade’s Latino community, where the number of registered voters outnumber Blacks by nearly 4 to 1. Crist has also appealed to the Latino community and has a campaign office in Little Havana. The two have been battling for the Latino vote by speaking out on issues, including lower college tuition rates for undocumented immigrants which became a new law that lawmakers passed during the last session.

Once an opponent of Medicaid expansion, Scott has reversed his stance on the issue to curry favor with Latino voters. Last Friday, former Gov. Jeb Bush threw his support behind Scott and campaigned with him in Homestead.

During campaign stops, Bush credited the state’s economic recovery to Scott, saying the incumbent had a “field of dreams” for Floridians looking to prosper after the recession. He criticized Crist as a “craven opportunist.”

In an interview with The Miami Times, Crist said he did not allow his opponent back into the race by not actively campaigning during the summer.

“I think I had a great summer,” he said. “I couldn’t be more pleased to open the Miami Garden campaign office. I think it’s going to be a good race. The two things that drive people to the polls are hope and fear.”

LATEST OPINION POLLS

Scott has the lead in six of eight opinion polls, some by as much as 5 percent. Crist leads Scott 45 percent to his 40 in the heavily-used Quinnipiac University poll. Another poll shows Crist leading his opponent 46 percent to 40.