Democrats push for down-ballot support at St. Petersburg rally
ST. PETERSBURG — Democrats gathered Sunday afternoon in Williams Park to implore voters to get to the polls early and vote their party in down-ballot races.
"This is now crunch time," said American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, who stopped in Pinellas on a tour through the state this week. "This is when an election is won or lost in Florida."
Weingarten was joined by a cast of politicians and officials including U.S. House District 13 candidate and former Gov. Charlie Christ, county commissioners Charlie Justice and Ken Welch, and state house candidates Ben Diamond and Jennifer Webb.
The speakers sent a similar message to an audience of about 30 people mostly made up of volunteers and campaign staffers to vote Democrat "from the White House all the way down to the local house," as school board member Rene Flowers put it. Crist then led a march to the Supervisor of Elections office at 501 First Avenue N, where early voting has been under way since Monday.
Weingarten took the opportunity to criticize FBI Director James Comey for announcing Friday in a letter to Congress that his agency is looking into more emails related to a closed investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while working as secretary of state.
No charges were filed in the original investigation, which was completed in July. Comey is under fire from several Democrats, including the presidential nominee herself, who are questioning why he disclosed the vague inquiry so close to the Nov. 8 election, especially against recommendations from Justice Department officials.
"It's political ambush," Weingarten said after her speech. "It feels like it's people in the FBI that want to meddle in the election."