The red flag has been waved on Charlie Crist at the Daytona International Speedway.
A campaign gift of a NASCAR sponsorship for today's nationally televised Coke Zero 400 is off — not because the rival Republican Party of Florida complained, but because the registered owner of the race car in question, record producer Mike Curb, used to be a Republican lieutenant governor of California and asked that the Democrat's decals not appear.
"I did it out of respect to Mike Curb, who is a staunch Republican and he didn't feel comfortable and he's been a huge supporter and a partner to us from the very start," race car partner Phil Parsons told the Sporting News at the speedway Friday morning. "In respect to Michael, we decided to take it off."
Parsons told the Sporting News that he had been paid by a supporter of Crist's gubernatorial campaign to put the Democratic stickers on the No. 98 car driven by Josh Wise.
Crist's name was to appear in six places on the car, including across the hood. The sponsorship was reported to be worth between $25,000 and $50,000.
Instead, Curb told the Daytona Beach News-Journal that he reached a deal with Parsons to make his company, Curb Records, the primary sponsor.
"We tried to turn it into a positive," Curb, a supporter of Republican Gov. Rick Scott, told the newspaper. "Crist will not be on the car in any capacity."
Parsons will pay back the money he received for the Crist sponsorship, Curb said.
The sponsorship had triggered a formal complaint from the Florida GOP claiming that its market value far exceeds the $3,000 limit for in-kind contributions to a statewide candidate.
Crist's campaign countered that the sponsorship was an in-kind contribution to Crist's political committee and therefore not subject to the $3,000 limit.