Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Politics

Gubernatorial candidate Nan Rich visits Pinellas, calls on Charlie Crist to debate

Gubernatorial candidate Nan Rich spoke with Pinellas County Democratic Party supporters in a St. Petersburg hotel conference room Thursdsay night to remind them that she is the only lifelong Democrat running for the office.

She also called out her primary opponent, Charlie Crist, for not accepting any of her challenges to a public debate.

About 80 members and supporters of the Pinellas County Democratic Executive Committee listened to her at the St. Petersburg Marriott Clearwater hotel, just off Roosevelt Boulevard.

"Your record is the best indicator of what you will do," Rich said, referring to Crist's past as a Republican.

Rich said she has always maintained the same position on LGBT rights, child welfare and off-shore drilling. She also touted her own bad rating with the National Rifle Association.

Rich is running out of her home base in Broward County. She was elected to the state Senate in 2004 and previously served two terms in the Florida House of Representatives. She has vigorously crossed the state for the past two years, and her campaign workers say she has covered 160,000 miles and attended more than 325 campaign events. But she is little-known outside of south Florida.

A Quinnipiac poll in April found that 85 percent of voters hadn't heard enough about Rich to offer an opinion of her.

Crist has all but shrugged her off in the current race.

On Thursday she gave those in the conference room a quick history of her voting record as the first woman elected leader of the Senate Democrats.

She said she helped win the support of a handful of Republicans to defeat a bill that would have expanded private prisons in the state; she helped defeat a bill that would have let for-proft companies into public education; and in 2012 she said she defeated a bill that would have nearly wiped out abortion clinics in Florida.

"We need someone who believes women get to make these decisions without government intervention," Rich said.

And then she reminded those in front of her that Crist has gotten flack for flip-flopping on abortion rights, too.

Rich said she is ready to debate Crist.

The crowd clapped. Outside on a table beside Rich's stickers and campaign buttons, a supporter had placed a stack of hand-written flyers.

The papers read: "... Nan Rich, a real Democrat, invisible candidate for Florida governor."

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