The Battle is Joined
Charlie Crist's top campaign adviser, George LeMieux, emerged from a room at the Renaissance Vinoy hotel Wednesday morning. He carried a thick blue file folder tucked under his arm, labeled "Contribution Summaries."
Crist is already meeting with fund-raisers. Around the crowded bar of the Vinoy early Wednesday morning, the talk was that Crist has a goal of raising $30-million for the 60-day general election campaign against Democrat Jim Davis, a number that would impress even the players for the Minnesota Twins, a few of whom happened to be present and happily oblivious to the politics surrounding them.
LeMieux wouldn't talk numbers, but said this: "Jim Davis is the candidate of the failed policies of the past century. Charlie Crist is the candidate with a proven record of leadership."
A closer look at the vote exposes a slight weakness in Crist's appeal to conservatives. He defeated Tom Gallagher in 61 of 67 counties, and lost in Calhoun, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Union and Washington. As LeMieux notes, Crist beat Gallagher in many larger counties in the Panhandle (Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, etc.) "He won every demographic," LeMieux said. "Charlie Crist had tremendous support among people of all stripes in the Republican Party."
"This state belongs to the people," Davis told reporters in Tampa. "It does not belong to the special interests." He poked fun at Crist for saying (to the Palm Beach Post editorial board) that he did not know when the FCAT test was administered.
But U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, told Davis he has to immediately and aggressively build bridges with black voters by talking to Freddie Pitts and Wilbert Lee, the two black men whose compensation package Davis opposed as a legislator in 1990. "Jim you have to be a different white man," Hastings told Davis in a conference call with reporters.