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Florida Gov. Crist's spokeswoman resigns

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Charlie Crist's longtime communications director is leaving — the latest shakeup involving Crist's administration and U.S. Senate campaign staff.

Shane Strum, Crist's new chief of staff, on Wednesday characterized Erin Isaac's departure as a resignation in favor of "other opportunities." Isaac did not return a call seeking comment.

In recent weeks, there were whispers that Crist's inner circle was unhappy with his public image and press coverage.

The news comes just days after Crist announced Andrea Saul, former spokeswoman for Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, will be his Senate campaign communications director — a job once perceived as possible for Isaac.

Crist has been having a bad stretch in the press lately — largely the result of questionable statements he made to the media. Crist denied endorsing the federal government's stimulus package, even though he warmly welcomed President Barack Obama and the money during a nationally televised town hall in Fort Myers in February. Crist also told reporters he didn't know Obama's itinerary for a recent visit to Florida, but e-mails obtained by the St. Petersburg Times show Crist's top aides in Washington and Tallahassee were notified.

The discrepancies have generated critical stories and television interviews for the governor, whose history of sky-high approval ratings once generated him the moniker "Teflon Charlie." Even Wolf Blitzer, who was invited to Crist's wedding last year, skewered him in a recent CNN interview in which Crist denied endorsing the stimulus package.

In perhaps another hint at Isaac's exit, Crist lately has been acting as his own press secretary, instructing reporters to call his cell phone directly — rather than use a "go-between" in the press office.

Strum said Isaac told him Tuesday afternoon of her "intent to resign." Strum said she will likely submit a formal resignation in the coming days.

Isaac, 31, left her job as spokeswoman for the Duval County supervisor of elections to work on Crist's 2006 gubernatorial campaign. She was promoted to communications director after Vivian Myrtetus left the post in 2007.

"She's been there for three years, so she's been a big part of the team," Strum said of Isaac. "She just came to me and said 'Hey, it's time.' "

Eric Eikenberg, Crist's former chief of staff, left less than two weeks ago for a job on the campaign, a move that came sooner than expected. Both supporters and critics pointed to Crist's falling approval ratings and Senate opponent Marco Rubio's rise in the polls as a reason for the move.

Shannon Colavecchio can be reached at scolavecchio@sptimes.com or (850) 224-7263.

Florida Gov. Crist's spokeswoman resigns 11/11/09 [Last modified: Thursday, November 12, 2009 4:18pm]
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