Crist lands campaign manager with I-4 rootsby John Kennedy | January 31st, 2014
Democratic candidate for governor Charlie Crist has landed a campaign manager — Omar Khan, lately an environmental trouble-shooter for President Obama.
Khan, who has Florida roots, is expected to join the Crist team next month.
“I love him. He loves Florida,” Crist said Friday. “He’s coming home to help us put the people back in charge.”
Khan has worked for Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Task Force, an outgrowth of his recent role leading public engagement efforts at the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Kahn is a former University of South Florida student body president and member of the school’s Board of Trustees.
In the Tampa Bay area, always a key toss-up region of the state, Khan elped former state Sen. Charlie Justice, D-St. Petersburg, win an upset victory in 2006. Khan also worked nationally on the Obama campaign in 2012 after serving as deputy Florida director four years earlier, where he clearly built a bond with Obama Florida director Steve Schale, now a top Crist strategist.
Kahn comes on board after a stumbling Crist first effort at landing a campaign manager. Crist had Democratic operative Bill Hyers lined up in November – ready to capitalize on a hot political property who had just helped Bill de Blasio win the New York mayor’s race.
But something went haywire. The partnership fizzled and Hyers is staying in the Northeast, where he recently joined Hilltop Public Solutions, a Democratic campaign shop.
Obama campaign manager Jim Messina, now serving as a consultant to the Crist campaign, was among those praising Khan’s selection.
“He’s smart, savvy, and as a Floridian, understands how important electing Charlie Crist is to the middle class,” Messina said.
Crist’s rival, Republican Gov. Rick Scott, recently unveiled a host of additions to his campaign team. Among them was Melissa Sellers, who moves from the executive office where she was communications director to the campaign manager’s role.