Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Crist's chief of staff to resign to take over campaign duties

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Charlie Crist's chief of staff, Eric Eikenberg, will resign in two weeks to take command of the governor's increasingly competitive race for the U.S. Senate.

Eikenberg's last day as chief of staff will be Nov. 2.

"We're less than a year from the election. It's time to giddyup," said Crist, dismissing the notion that he is worried about his campaign. "Do I look nervous? Just getting to work, that's all."

The new chief of staff will be Shane Strum, 40, who currently oversees some of the state's largest agencies as a deputy chief of staff.

"Today is not about me. It's about Shane Strum," Eikenberg, 33, said Tuesday. "I'm excited for my friend. He's been a tremendous part of the team, and he's going to do an excellent job."

The chief of staff is the governor's most trusted adviser and serves as a key link with other senior staff members, state agency heads and legislative leaders, guiding the policy and politics of the Governor's Office.

The change comes as Crist nears the start of the final year of his term and what will be another difficult budget year because of the slide in Florida's real-estate-dominated economy.

Two weeks ago, Eikenberg denied persistent rumors that he was about to quit. The suddenness of the change is sure to fuel speculation that Crist is concerned about his fight for the Republican nomination for the Senate with former House Speaker Marc Rubio of Miami, who raised more than $1 million in the past quarter and appears to be slowly gaining ground in polls.

What once looked like a waltz for Crist now looks like a potential horse race even though Crist's popularity, name recognition and fundraising advantage make him the favorite. A recent Florida Chamber of Commerce poll had Crist leading Rubio by 14 points.

Asked if a revolving door exists between the Governor's Office and his campaign, Crist said: "No, I think there's just a window of opportunity."

Eikenberg, who entered the political arena at age 22, has campaign experience: He managed the 2000 re-election of his former boss, U.S. Rep. Clay Shaw of Fort Lauderdale, and from 2001 to 2002 was the deputy executive director of the Republican Party.

Miami Herald staff writer Beth Reinhard contributed to this report.

Crist's chief of staff to resign to take over campaign duties 10/20/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 20, 2009 10:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pasco County Fire Rescue fighting a two-alarm fire started by an explosion


    Two houses are on fire and one victim has been critically burned and taken to a trauma center following an explosion at a home at 8652 Velvet Dr, in Port Richey.

  2. Rays see the Blake Snell they've been waiting for in win over Mariners

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was a one-run game Sunday when the Mariners' Robinson Cano singled with one out in the seventh inning, bringing the dangerous Nelson Cruz to the plate.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) throwing in the third inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.
  3. Bucs counting on better health creating better pass rush


    TAMPA — Ask Bucs coaches about the improved depth and health of their defensive line, and they'll look around for a piece of wood to knock on.

    Retired All-Pro defensive end  Simeon Rice, right, the last Buc to have double-digit sacks in a season,  works with defensive end Ryan Russell, who last season was promoted from the practice squad for the second half of the year as injuries piled up. He is competing for a backup job this year.
  4. Tampa man turns himself in for Sunday hit and run fatality

    Public Safety

    A Tampa man was arrested early Sunday after he struck and killed a pedestrian, left the scene, and then called 911 to turn himself in.

  5. Tom Jones' Two Cents: Bucs, Jaguars both get blame for terrible preseason ratings

    TV and Radio

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst of a weekend in televised sports.

    Worst matchup

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) tries to get past Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Brian Dixon (41) and safety Barry Church (42) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack) JVS119