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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Meet Charlie Crist's loose-knit crew of advisers

Charlie Crist, almost unique among political figures of his stature, has never had a consistent inner circle of advisers at his side.

Ask anyone who knows the former Florida governor well — or as well as anyone can know the ever-sunny but often inscrutable Crist — and they will tell you he has two primary confidants: Carole Crist, his wife, and Dr. Charles Crist, his father.

"He keeps his cards very close to the vest," said Eric Johnson, a South Florida Democratic consultant who worked on Crist's unsuccessful U.S. Senate bid as an independent in 2010 and now is chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter. "He listens to everybody and takes in everybody's advice, but he definitely has an inner compass and does call a lot of his own shots."
That's partly why in campaign after campaign, the relentlessly frugal Crist has hired a bare-bones staff. From routine press calls to requests for speaking engagements, Crist often handled them directly rather than having them filtered through an entourage of aides.

On the big-picture political questions, few Floridians better understand state politics than Crist.

"If Charlie Crist wasn't in public office he would more than likely be a high-paid political consultant. He understands this stuff better than most people who get paid to do it," said Democratic consultant Steve Schale.

But should Crist run against Gov. Rick Scott on new Democratic terrain, he will be leaning on a select group of counselors while having to keep some of his own political impulses in check.

So whom does Crist, 56, rely on for political guidance, as he positions himself to launch what would be the most extraordinary political comeback in Florida history?

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[Last modified: Friday, May 24, 2013 7:42pm]


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