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Annette Taddeo backs Charlie Crist in Democrats’ gubernatorial bid

Taddeo was Crist’s former running mate in the 2014 race for Florida governor.
Annette Taddeo speaks during a Democratic Party fundraiser dinner, Saturday, March 12, 2022, at the Signature Grand.
Annette Taddeo speaks during a Democratic Party fundraiser dinner, Saturday, March 12, 2022, at the Signature Grand. [ MICHAEL LAUGHLIN | South Florida Sun-Sentinel ]
Published Jun. 13

MIAMI — A week after leaving the governor’s race to run for Congress, Miami state Sen. Annette Taddeo is endorsing U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist as the Democratic gubernatorial candidate to go up against Gov. Ron DeSantis in November.

“It should not be a surprise,” said Taddeo on her endorsement. “I really believe that us as Democrats, we need to come together.”

Before winning her Senate seat in a special election in 2016, she was Crist’s running mate in his failed bid for governor in 2014 against Rick Scott, who was then the Republican incumbent.

Taddeo got Crist’s backing last week shortly after her announcement that she was running in Florida’s Congressional District 27, incumbent U.S. Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar’s new district. Crist, who is from St. Petersburg, served one term as governor when he was in the Republican Party, from 2007-2011.

Taddeo’s endorsement of Crist so soon after her announcement she was leaving the race also narrows the field for Democrats vying to unseat DeSantis, and ramps up the Crist campaign’s momentum against his top rival Nikki Fried, Florida’s agriculture commissioner.

Related: State Sen. Annette Taddeo drops her bid for governor, will run for Congress

“I don’t think it’s so much about the issues, I think we all agree on the issues. I think it’s about who we can trust to do this best,” Taddeo told the Herald. “It’s not an easy race, we all know that. It’s going to take everything we’ve got.”

Crist said that Taddeo “obviously would’ve been a great governor” and “in the future she could be,” but he was excited to receive her endorsement. Taddeo is Colombian-American, fluent in Spanish, and she appears often in local Spanish-language media in Miami-Dade County. As Democrats struggle to sell their agenda to Hispanic voters in South Florida, Taddeo is likely to become one of Crist’s Spanish-language surrogates.

“I don’t think they (Hispanic voters) are disillusioned, I think they’re misled,” Crist said, adding Taddeo is “a wonderful human being.”

“She’s a saint in my book,” he added.

Asked if he thought Taddeo’s endorsement was an attempt to signal to others in the Democratic primary field to drop their bids, Crist countered that his main focus was beating DeSantis, who Crist said is “tearing Florida apart.”

“I don’t force anyone ever to do anything,” Crist said. “I am a public servant who believes in actual freedoms.”

Florida’s primary elections are on August 23. The general election is on November 8.

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