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To help win the south, Congressional Democrats turn to former Republican Charlie Crist

The St. Petersburg Congressman was named a regional vice-chair of the DCCC heading into 2020
Rep. Charlie Crist, center, speaks as Rep. Kathy Castor, far left, looks on during a news conference Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019 at Tampa International Airport. Castor and Crist were joined by local federal workers to highlighting the negative impact of the shutdown and calling for government to re-open. CHRIS URSO | Times
Published Apr. 16

In 2018, the broader Democratic strategy to take back the House didn’t revolve around impeaching President Donald Trump or embracing the platform of Democratic socialism. Rather, Congressional Democrats thought they could win suburban swing districts by focusing on so-called kitchen table issues, like health care and stagnant wages.

While 2020 presidential candidates navigate the progressive base and the moderate middle, it’s clear House Speaker Nancy Pelosi believes her caucus needs to run as they did last November. Here’s one example: U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist was named regional vice chair for the south of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the party’s House campaign apparatus.

Crist is a St. Petersburg Democrat but no one would confuse him with Bernie Sanders or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Rather, he served in Tallahassee as a Republican governor before leaving the party and becoming an Independent then a Democrat.

And Crist has certainly served as a moderate in Congress. He’s a member of the “Blue Dog Coalition,” a group of House Democrats who identify themselves as centrist. Within his caucus, his voting record is certainly wiht his party but skews toward the middle, according GovTrack.com’s ideology chart.

Asked in February how Democrats can win again in 2020, here’s what Crist said:

“Do what we did in this last fall election. The slogan was ‘For the people,’ and the people heard it loud and clear. That means things like working for middle America. That means getting healthcare cost down, reducing the price of prescription drugs, making sure we protect Social Security and Medicare, fight for our veterans. The kinds of things that middle American cares about that I think we may have lost in 2016. Sticking with the message that we ran with in 2018, I think that will bring a lot of people back into this thing.”

Notice, there’s no mention of Medicare for All, investigating Trump or free college tuition.

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