St. Petersburg was all abuzz last Saturday with the arrival off former governor Charlie Crist. In town for a book signing, he generated a huge crowd of supporters and a few naysayers as well.
The first stop on his list was Ferg’s, the local sports bar along Central Avenue, known for its game day lore and good food. And although the place was packed with nearly 150 people, there wasn’t a person sitting.
“They were really anticipating his arrival,” said Jeff Copeland, executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Pinellas County (SCLC). Copeland has known Crist for years and is ecstatic for his run at governor.
With the release of his book, The Party’s Over: How the Extreme Right Hijacked the GOP and I Became a Democrat, it seems Crist isn’t squirming over the fact that his opponent, current Governor Rick Scott, has a rumored $100 million at his disposal.
An exorbitant amount of money to rally a trash talking campaign that is sure to have Crist dodging more bombs than a beachgoer caught in a seagull horde after a fish dinner. But with all the free publicity surrounding the just wrapped up book tour, he probably doesn’t have to worry just yet.
“Charlie embraces everyone; he’s a people’s governor,” said Copeland pointing out the now democratic candidate for governor’s uncanny ability to mesh with any crowd. “That’s what you need, someone who knows what both sides of the train tracks look like and how they operate.”
A firm supporter of Crist since his previous term as governor, when he convinced the cabinet to restore rights to nonviolent offenders, a decision since reversed by now Gov. Scott, Copeland is hopeful Crist’s popularity among long-time residents and Florida’s working middle class will be the right ammunition in the upcoming campaign.
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and Watson Haynes, president and CEO of the Pinellas County Urban League were both on hand to say a few words to the crowd, both adamantly pledging their support.
But the day for Crist was about meeting and greeting the supporters of his book and when he arrived at Haslam’s Book Store to autograph some copies, he was met with signs reading, “The People’s Governor” and mostly smiles.
The few protestors who showed up were a bit more subdued when compared to what is becoming known as the Fort Lauderdale incident where Tea Party Protesters spit out a round of offensive insults aimed at Crist. But Crist didn’t seem to notice and greeted all his supporters with a smile and a wave.
“He is a great addition to what we need in our community,” said Copeland. “We have a topnotch mayor so now it’s time for a top notch governor.”
Crist’s book, “The Party’s Over: How the Extreme Right Hijacked the GOP and I Became a Democrat,” is available at Haslam’s Book Store, Barnes & Noble and other fine book stores.