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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Crist Calls Democrat Heller 'Very Qualified'



In an open seat for the Legislature in his hometown of St. Petersburg, you would expect Charlie Crist to endorse fellow Republican Angelo Cappelli in the general election. But Crist made it clear Saturday night that "I have not" taken sides in the race between Cappelli and Democrat Bill Heller for House District 52.

"I think they're both very qualified candidates," said Crist. Asked whether he thought Heller was equally qualified to represent the district, Crist said: "I do. I do." Crist called Heller a friend. The long-time educator has been supportive of Crist in the past.

What prompted the questions was a new Cappelli campaign flier (click here to see flier), paid for by the Republican Party, that prominently features quotes from Crist saying that "no one is better prepared" to fight for the district than Cappelli. Pressed, Crist would not repeat that, and said both men were very qualified. So here was Crist, the standard-bearer on the GOP ticket, making it clear that the Democrat in an open seat is equally qualified to represent the district.

Asked about the comments attributed to him in the flier, Crist said: "I know. That's why I said that."

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 11:37am]


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