Crist will headline Pinellas Democratic event because: 1) He's local. 2) He'll raise money
Pinellas Democrats are planning a big gala fundraising dinner, so it’s not completely surprising that they’ve invited a man who is expected to be a big draw: Charlie Crist, the St. Petersburg native who is now a candidate for governor.
But at a meeting of the Pinellas Democratic Executive Committee Thursday, member Nancy Shipes said it was “outrageous” to make Crist the headliner without giving equal time to Nan Rich, the former state senator who also is a Democratic candidate for governor. She noted the local party organization doesn’t make endorsements before the primary election.
“I’d like for us to offer an invitation to Nan Rich to attend, as a courtesy to her, to give her equal time with Charlie,” she said, and her remarks drew applause.
Pinellas Democratic Chairman Mark Hanisee agreed with other speakers who praised Rich as a good candidate, but also said she had been given many opportunities to speak to local Democrats. He said having Crist as speaker did not constitute an official endorsement in the primary.
“I will be very direct why I am choosing Charlie. because this is an economic draw. He is the hometown candidate and the purpose is to make as much money as possible on this dinner, because that money is going to go to our treasury which is going to our candidates.”
His remarks got applause also. He also added that Democrats have been winning a lot of races lately, including victories in county commission and St. Petersburg municipal races, and said: “Money is the mother’s milk of all politics and if you think I’m kidding ask the candidates who don’t have money.“
The Kennedy-King Gala featuring Crist will be May 10, with tickets at $125 per person.