KISSIMMEE, Fla. (FNN) – Congressman Charlie Crist (D-Fla.) made a stop in downtown Kissimmee as part of his run for governor of the state, in a race that will see him first face current Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nicole “Nikki” Fried and then incumbent Ron DeSantis.
Crist stated that DeSantis was “on the wrong path” in many issues that affect Florida, like “sending children safely to school, making sure that voters have their right to vote, passing legislation that makes that nearly impossible.”
“I just think we need a governor that has a heart, that cares about Florida, that has compassion,” he said. “Whether it comes to the issue of education…the environment…and what’s critically important, our children, and making sure that parents understand that whoever the governor, or the clerk of the court, or the school board is, that they care and understand that they are our future.”
Crist made the remarks at a local restaurant owned by Jackie Espinoza, a Puerto Rican business owner who is also running for Osceola City Commissioner. He took that opportunity to talk about the importance of respecting the struggles of immigrants, reminding voters that he is the grandson of immigrants from Cyprus and Lebanon.
“We should celebrate people who come into Florida, one of the most diverse states in the country. It’s a strength. People who choose to leave their own country to come here are not forgetting their homeland, they’re seeking a better opportunity, a compassionate, capitalistic country,” he said.
He criticized recent legislation from the state that he said would limit voting rights, considering it “terrible.” “We’re a democracy,” he said. “We’re the shining city on the hill for so many around the globe that look to the United States of America for leadership, a leader for peace, for strength. And there are those who seek to suppress voting rights, it breaks my heart.”
Also present was Kelvin Soto, Osceola Clerk of the Circuit Court, who emphasized the importance of public education. “[Crist] wants to understand the state of public schools in Florida,” he said. “Many people who are in these positions have to make big decisions, and have to understand the importance of keeping our children updated in our schools.”
“Education is the equal opportunity provider in our country,” Crist added. “And every county should have the opportunity to decide on their own how to handle that education, it’s what they were elected for. Osceola knows what’s best for them, Orange County knows what’s best for them, and DeSantis wants to limit that capacity. It’s disrespectful.”
He reiterated that DeSantis has been “very disappointing, whether it’s dealing with the pandemic, not dealing with masks, not advocating vaccines, Florida deserves better. We now have 60,000 of our fellow Floridians dead. That’s more than what we lost in the Vietnam war. I just can’t believe that in this day and age he would mock a guy like [Dr. Anthony] Fauci [medical adviser for the Biden administration].”
If he wins the primary, Crist would run against his second incumbent, as he faced Rick Scott in 2014. DeSantis won in 2018 against Andrew Gillum by a little over 32,000 votes, less than 0.4 percent, which for some is an indication of how divided Florida truly is. Crist is aware of that and he considers it important to work with others to overcome the gap.
“Most say ‘we have a Republican governor, a Republican house, so the heck with you all, we’re going to do whatever we want.’ That’s no way to bring people together, that’s more divisive. We don’t need more divisiveness. We need to do what in my opinion President [Joe] Biden is doing, which is try to bring the country back together, and in this case bring Florida back together. Florida is a beautiful place and all people want is to have great education for their children, a safe community to raise them in, a good environment to keep tourism strong and our economy strong. We’re not divided in some of the most basic and important issues, and I will work to achieve that.” – Congressman and Florida gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist
And about people that will refuse to work together? “You never give up. There is too much that we are blessed with. Some aren’t going to come along, I’m not that naive. But you can’t give up. The more you try, the more some will come along and want to work together to make our state strong.”
Juan Carlo Rodriguez is a politics and entertainment writer for Florida National News, and the Content Coordinator for FNN News en Español. | firstname.lastname@example.org