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Activist wants Charlie Crist to explain flip-flop on gay marriage?

Potential gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist may have a gay problem.

No, we're not talking about the old whisper campaign about the longtime bachelor, now married. We're talking about some Democratic activists who remember when he was embroiled in a tough GOP gubernatorial primary in 2006 and signed a petition to add a same-sex marriage ban to the state Constitution and fliers for Crist touted his opposition to gay adoptions and same-sex marriage.

On Saturday, Crist will be at the Tampa Convention Center as the keynote speaker for the "Kennedy-King Dinner" sponsored by the Hillsborough and Pinellas Democratic parties.

Fort Lauderdale Democratic activist Michael Rajner is none too pleased about Crist's appearance. He is legislative director for the Florida GLBT Democratic Caucus and was the GLBT representative on the Florida Democratic Party's Platform Committee.

In a guest column for the Tampa Bay Times Buzz blog, Rajner calls on local party leaders to insist that Crist fully explain his position on issues important to gay voters before he be allowed to speak.

"The leadership of the Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee should be ashamed of themselves for their refusing to have Crist speak on LGBT ­issues before next week's Kennedy-King Dinner. With each movement and organization, there are always dark days. In my mind, this is certainly among those dark days. It's a sad day when a Democratic group is so blatantly insensitive to a key constituency group of the Democratic Party who is simply asking for equal rights," wrote Rajner, whose full column can be read on the Buzz blog at tampabay.com/buzz.

In December, Crist said he regrets signing that gay marriage ban petition.

Cycle for second acts?

Call us superstitious, but we'll be keeping a close eye on Tuesday's special congressional election in South Carolina between former Gov. Mark Sanford and Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch. Sanford's infidelity has zilch to do with Crist's political metamorphosis, but if Sanford manages to survive his own missteps and win, it may signal that 2014 is the election cycle for political comebacks.

Sanford and Crist are not the only ones positioned for incredible comebacks. In New York City, former Democratic U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner — he of the unfortunate name and even more unfortunate Twitter photo — is looking at running for mayor.

New blood

The Republican Party of Florida has hired Juston Johnson as the organization's executive director.

Johnson most recently served as national field director for the Republican National Committee during the 2012 cycle, and he served as campaign manager for U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.

"Juston Johnson is an accomplished political professional with more than a decade of experience and success," said party chair Lenny Curry. "Along with the other new faces at the party, Juston will have a very important job to do, and I have full confidence in his leadership."

Johnson's other roles have included political director at the Republican Party of Wisconsin, 2008 Wisconsin Victory Director and deputy director of political education at the Republican National Committee. Johnson also managed the campaign for Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen during the difficult 2006 election cycle.

"It's an honor to help lead the effort in re-electing Rick Scott to a second term as governor, as well as holding our Cabinet and legislative majorities, working for GOP victories across the Sunshine State," said Johnson. "I'm looking forward to this opportunity and thank chairman Curry for his confidence in me."

Castro to fire up Dems

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention, is set to keynote the Florida Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson dinner June 15 in Hollywood. He will join U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and DNC national chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz and hundreds of other Democrats at the annual fundraising dinner.

Castro in 2001 became the youngest City Council member in San Antonio history and in 2009 was elected mayor.

Important Miami

Underscoring the importance of diverse Miami-Dade to Democratic prospects in statewide elections, the Florida Democratic party on Monday officially opens a new campaign office in Little Havana. Miami-Dade played an enormous role in delivering Florida's 29 electoral votes to Barack Obama in 2012.

Contact Adam C. Smith at asmith@tampabay.com.

Winner of the week

Nancy Detert. The Republican state senator from Venice not only played a key role passing bills helping improve protection of foster children in Florida, but she also saw her years-long effort to ban texting while driving get approval and played a pivotal role in killing the controversial "parent trigger" bill.

Loser of the week

Will Weatherford. It was impossible for the 33-year-old House speaker from Pasco County to live up to presession hype, but it's also clear that Weatherford's image is far weaker now that the session is over. He burnished his conservative bonafides and ideological divisiveness with his main legacy — rejecting any federal money to expand health insurance coverage to lower-income Floridians. But top priorities for the well-connected golden boy died under his watch, including significant pension reform and charter school expansion under the "parent trigger" bill.

Activist wants Charlie Crist to explain flip-flop on gay marriage? 05/04/13 [Last modified: Saturday, May 4, 2013 9:13pm]

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