Saturday, February 24, 2018
Politics

After nine years sending prayers to Jerusalem, Charlie Crist's paperwork is missing this hurricane season

ST. PETERSBURG — For centuries, visitors to Jerusalem's Western Wall have stuck prayer-filled notes into the crevices of one of Judaism's holiest sites. In 2007, Gov. Charlie Crist did the same:

"Dear God," the note read, "please protect our Florida from storms and other difficulties. Charlie."

No hurricanes made landfall in Florida that year.

Over the next nine years, Crist had a prayer note delivered to the Western Wall before each hurricane season. And for those nine years, hurricanes stayed away from Florida.

But this year Florida might have a problem:

Crist hasn't filed the paperwork for the 2016 hurricane season.

The congressional candidate said he has been unable to send his annual request for divine intervention to the Old City.

This week, Florida was drenched by Tropical Storm Colin.

Coincidence? Ominous warning? Just another June in Florida?

Crist doesn't see any link between the tropical storm and this year's missing request. Of course, he's never claimed credit for keeping hurricanes at bay.

"I give that to God," he told the newspaper in 2009. "But it's nice."

He also pointed out that Colin was a tropical storm, not a hurricane.

"Although it needs to be taken seriously," Crist said of the storm, which spent Monday and Tuesday drenching Tampa Bay, causing street flooding and power outages.

Crist was a longtime Republican when he was elected governor in 2007. After a failed bid for the U.S. Senate in 2010, he ran for governor again in 2014 as a Democrat against the Republican incumbent, Gov. Rick Scott.

But Crist lost. Now he's trying another reboot. In October he announced that he would run as a Democrat for Florida's 13th Congressional District in Pinellas County.

His opponent in the Democratic primary, Donald Hackett Jr., said he's trying to use the power of prayer himself — to raise $10,000 for his campaign. That hasn't happened yet. Still, he supports Crist's prayers.

"More power to him if he can help keep the hurricanes away," Hackett said.

This hurricane season doesn't end until Nov. 30, so there's still time for someone to slip a quick prayer from the former governor into the Western Wall.

The hard part, Crist said, has been finding someone heading to Jerusalem who can deliver the handwritten prayer for him.

But if it's not too late to file the right form this hurricane season, Crist said, he'll do it.

"I think it would be a wonderful thing to do," he said. "Why not?"

Contact Ariana Figueroa at [email protected] or (813) 226-3350. Follow @ArianaLFigueroa.

   
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