Former Gov. Charlie Crist hinted to a group of Palm Beach County Democrats Friday that he might launch a 2014 bid for governor “in a month or so.”
Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat Crist met with Democratic elected officials, club presidents and other activists at the Hagen Ranch Road Library west of Delray Beach. The gathering of about 50 people was put together by former Palm Beach County commissioner Burt Aaronson.
Crist, who has been testing the waters for a gubernatorial run for months, spent the past few days in Broward and Palm Beach counties — Democratic strongholds that will be important if he runs in a primary against announced Democratic candidate Nan Rich and potential Democratic candidate Alex Sink.
For Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, Crist had dinner on Wednesday night in Broward County with former Democratic state Sen. Steve Geller. On Friday, Crist greeted the heavily Jewish audience in west Delray with the traditional Rosh Hashanah greeting of “L’Shana Tova.”
“I know how much you care about education and how much you care about the environment and how much you care about health care for our people. And I think that in Florida we can all do better,” said Crist, who didn’t mention Republican Gov. Rick Scott by name.
“As we go forward, you know, if we come back here in a month or so, I hope you’ll be around because we may be on a mission together to do better, and Floridians I think deserve that.”
Longtime Republican Crist was elected governor as the GOP nominee in 2006. But in 2010, after falling behind fellow Republican Marco Rubio in the race for the party’s nomination for U.S. Senate, Crist switched to no party affiliation and ran for Senate as an independent. Crist campaigned and raised money for President Obama and other Democrats in 2012 and switched his registration to Democrat in December.
“Governor, I hope you run and I can’t wait to start working with you once again,” state Sen. Joseph Abruzzo, D-Wellington, told Crist at Friday’s meeting.
State Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, and state Reps. Irving Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, and Lori Berman, D-Lantana, also attended the meeting. So did three Democratic county commissioners — Priscilla Taylor, Shelley Vana and Mary Lou Berger.
Aaronson, a Democrat who left the commission because of term limits last year, broke with his party in 2010 to support Crist’s independent Senate bid rather than Democratic nominee Kendrick Meek’s campaign. Aaronson has emerged as Crist’s unofficial point man and chauffeur when he visits Palm Beach County.
“I’m going to have to get a new car with the amount of time I’ve spent driving him around,” Aaronson joked.