Charlie Crist launches first 2014 campaign video
Florida GOP responds to Charlie Crist

The 50 million dollar question for Charlie Crist

Crist majic

On July 1, 2005, Tom Gallagher appeared to be the early frontrunner in the race to win Florida's GOP nomination for governor.

On that day, his campaign announced a then record setting fundraising pace. Gallagher had collect $3.02 million in only 43 days. Even Jeb Bush had not raised money that fast in his campaigns for governor.

Gallagher campaign manager Brett Doster talked up the success with the media and Florida's political heavy weights. The message - the Gallagher train is leaving the station and you better hurry and get on board.

Florida's Chief Financial Officer appeared to have every reason to feel comfortable and his chief rival, Attorney General Charlie Crist, seemed to agree.

"It is well known that [Gallagher] knows how to raise money," Crist said in a statement. "I look forward to a campaign not just purchased on television but a real discussion of issues before the people of Florida."

On July 7, Crist made an announcement that changed all of the assumptions about the 2006 race for governor.

Crist said his campaign had raised $3.8 million is just six weeks making Crist the new fundraising champion.

Gallagher's campaign reeled from the announcement and never fully recovered.

This weekend, Crist will attend the Florida Democratic Party's statewide conference in Orlando. The newly minted Democrat is being hailed as the party's best chance to defeat Republican Gov. Rick Scott in November.

Crist, in a new video released today, demonstrates his natural knack for appearing to care deeply about average Floridians. He also demonstrates his ability to find an opponent's weakness and capitalize on it. 

Scott's tiresome slogan "It's Working" is flipped by Crist into a somber and concerned "It's Not Working."

Crist knows how to campaign. He has an ability to connect with individuals in a way that continues to elude Scott. 

But while Scott may be sorely lacking in charisma, he has plenty of the other important campaign ingredient - money. He spent $70 million of his own dough in 2010. He is raising money this time and while he says he doesn't want to spend his own money again, be assured that Scott will write checks if that is what it takes to win.

The 50 million dollar question for Crist is - can he raise big money?

The fact is, no one knows. Crist has no experience raising money as a Democrat. A lot of his previous money sources won't pony up for him. Crist needs to find new donors.

Crist is expected to formally announce his campaign in November. If he does, he will need to report in January how much money he has raised in November and December.

He will need a very good showing to prove that he is a viable candidate.

Forget his lead in the polls. Forget his charm. Forget his winning campaign style.

None of that will matter if Crist does not have the money to compete in a very large and very expensive media state.

If Democrats really want Crist to win, they are going to have to open their checkbooks.

That is first and most important test of the 2014 campaign. 

No one knows that better than Tom Gallagher - and Charlie Crist.


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Money is not going to help Crist. "the people's" candidate only cares about himself.

John Van Gieson

Good analysis, Brian. You still have it.

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