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Once cold-shouldered by Florida GOP, Rubio comes to party’s aid to ‘re-defeat Charlie Crist’

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014 by George Bennett

Rubio outside his Palm Beach Gardens office in 2012.

When Marco Rubio began his bid for U.S. Senate in 2009, Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer openly supported his friend, then-Gov. Charlie Crist, who was the prohibitive favorite in the GOP primary.

Greer ended up resigning as party boss and going to prison on grand theft and money-laundering charges. Crist ended up falling behind Rubio, bolting the GOP and becoming an independent and then a Democrat who’s now pursuing his old job and leading Republican Gov. Rick Scott in many polls.

Now Rubio is going to bat for the Republican Party of Florida, making a fundraising pitch for the party’s efforts to hang onto the governor’s mansion.

Rubio’s e-mail begins with a veiled reference to the days when the party establishment wrote him off:

“Five years ago, Charlie Crist announced that he was running for the U.S. Senate. At the time, I was 20-30 points down in the polls. No one thought I had a chance. But with your support, things changed, and Floridians were exposed to the phony that is Charlie Crist.

“Today, I’m asking you to help the Republican Party of Florida re-defeat Charlie Crist.”

Scott signs package of tax cuts, rounding out election-year, $500M-plus giveback

Monday, May 12th, 2014 by John Kennedy

Gov. Rick Scott signed into law Monday a $121 million package of election-year tax cuts — including breaks on everything from hurricane- and back-to-school supplies to kids’ bike helmets and car seats.

The signing — at the state’s annual Hurricane Conference in Orlando — brings to more than $500 million the total on the tax-and-fee reductions approved by lawmakers. The Republican governor earlier put the give-backs on the top of his legislative wish list.

“This year we worked to promote a $500 million reduction in taxes and fees because Florida families should keep more of the money they earn,” Scott said.

Scott already signed into law last month a $395 million rollback of motorist fees approved in 2009 under former Gov. Charlie Crist. The former Republican governor now is challenging Scott as a Democrat, giving that reduction some extra political mileage.

Jim Davis, slammed by Crist in 2006 for Cuba visit, says Crist ‘will learn a lot’ if he goes

Thursday, May 8th, 2014 by George Bennett

2006 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jim Davis, who lost to then-Republican Charlie Crist

When he was a Republican running for governor in 2006, Charlie Crist accused Democratic rival Jim Davis of “poor judgment” for visiting Cuba three years earlier.

Castro

A Crist ad said Davis “met with terrorists” because as a member of Congress he met with members of the Cuban government (though not Fidel Castro himself) and also met with Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat.

Now a Democrat and no longer a supporter of the U.S. embargo against Cuba, Crist has said he might visit Cuba himself this year.

Davis was asked today if he sees any inconsistency in Crist visiting the communist island after bashing Davis for doing so.

“I don’t want to be a Republican Party of Florida tweet today,” Davis said. He said he gained valuable information by seeing conditions in Cuba firsthand and “talking to people, particularly regular people” while he was there.

“In campaigns these days, everything gets thrown at you, including the kitchen sink. That’s what happened to me and it’s even worse now,” Davis said. “I think if Charlie Crist goes to Cuba he will learn a lot. I did.”

Scott says Crist will be Castro ‘puppet’ if he visits Cuba

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014 by George Bennett

Gov. Rick Scott and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera campaigning today in Greenacres.


GREENACRES — Gov. Rick Scott and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera blasted Democrat Charlie Crist for considering a trip to Cuba this summer.

“It’s sort of laughable. He’s going to go down there and help promote the Castro regime,” Scott told reporters after a campaign appearance at AutoNation Chevrolet to promote cuts in motor vehicle fees and other taxes.

“He’s just going to be a puppet for the Castro regime and every dollar he spends down there is going to help them oppress their people,” Scott said.

Crist’s interest in visiting the communist island was first reported by The Tampa Bay Times.

“The embargo has done nothing in fifty years to change the regime in Cuba or end the suffering of the Cuban people,” Crist campaign spokesman Kevin Cate said. “Gov. Crist is exploring every opportunity to help bring economic freedom and democracy to the people of Cuba.”

Lopez-Cantera said his family “lost everything” after Castro came to power and his grandmother’s brothers were imprisoned by Castro.

“Charlie’s been a Republican and an independent and a Democrat,” Lopez-Cantera said. “I don’t know, maybe he’s going down there to explore becoming a communist.”

Charlie Crist says ‘I’ll just go there,’ plays race card again in explaining party switch

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014 by George Bennett

Crist: GOP treatment of "the African-American president" was "a big reason" he left party.


Republican-turned-independent-turned Democrat Charlie Crist denied he left the GOP because he was trailing Marco Rubio in a 2010 Senate primary and said “a big reason” he bolted was the way some Republicans treated “the African-American president.”

Crist’s remarks in an interview with Fusion TV’s Jorge Ramos echo his claims to Stephen Colbert in February that his infamous Fort Myers stimulus hug of President Barack Obama angered GOP activists in part because Obama “was a Democrat, but not just a Democrat, an African-American.”

Then-Republican Crist was initially the frontrunner for the party’s 2010 Senate nomination, but fell far behind Rubio and left the party to become an independent in 2010. He became a Democrat in December 2012.

“You left the Republican Party because you were going to lose to Marco Rubio,” Ramos said.

Crist said he left because the party’s leadership “went off the cliff” and “I couldn’t be consistent with myself and my core beliefs, and stay with a party that was so unfriendly toward the African-American president, I’ll just go there.”

He referred again to “the African-American president” and said the way “some” in the party treated Obama was “a big reason” he left the GOP.

RNC spokesman Izzy Santa responded to Crist’s remarks in an e-mail to Fusion: “Being a flip-flopper is bad enough, but playing the race card to win over voters is pitiful.”

Release of inmate Jim Greer’s ‘Shakespearean’ tell-all might be delayed until his own release in July

Monday, May 5th, 2014 by George Bennett

Former Republican Party of Florida chairman Jim Greer's Department of Corrections photo

A tell-all book about former Republican Party of Florida Chairman and Charlie Crist friend Jim Greer‘s plunge from political power to incarceration might be delayed five weeks to coincide with Greer’s July release from custody on grand theft and money-laundering charges.

Authored by Peter Golenbock and published by NewSouth Books, The Chairman: The Rise and Betrayal of Jim Greer, is billed on Amazon as nothing less than “a Shakespearean tale of friendship and betrayal to rival Hamlet.”

The book — which appears likely to take shots at Crist, Sen. Marco Rubio, former Attorney Gen. Bill McCollum and the tea party movement — has been scheduled for June 1 release.

But NewSouth publisher Suzanne La Rosa said the date might be pushed back to July 7. She mentioned possible “safety concerns” for Greer, who is scheduled for release from the Bridges of Orlando work-release facility on July 5.

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Florida GOP Chairman Lenny Curry to resign, pursue Jacksonville mayor bid

Thursday, May 1st, 2014 by George Bennett

Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry


Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry will step down at the end of this month to pursue a 2015 campaign for mayor of Jacksonville, The Florida Times-Union reported and Florida Republican National Committeeman Peter Feaman confirmed.

The party will select a new chairman May 31 at its quarterly meeting in Tampa, Feaman said today.

Curry’s departure comes while RPOF plays a key role in Gov. Rick Scott‘s re-election efforts in one of the nation’s hottest governor’s races. Republican-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist, who was governor immediately before Scott, leads Scott in most polls.

Crist 48, Scott 38 in new Q poll with Dem-leaning sample

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014 by George Bennett

Crist


Despite a TV ad blitz by Republican Gov. Rick Scott, Democrat Charlie Crist continues to hold a big lead in a new Quinnipiac University poll that includes a Democrat-leaning voter sample sure to raise Republican hackles.

Crist gets 48 percent and Scott gets 38 percent in the new poll. That’s basically the same lead Crist held in Quinnipiac’s poll three months ago, before Scott and his allies poured $6 million or more into TV ads promoting the incumbent and trashing Crist.

The poll also finds Floridians supporting same-sex marriage by a 56-to-39 percent margin. That’s a dramatic turnaround from 2008, when 61.9 percent of Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

The new poll of 1,413 registered Florida voters was conducted April 23 – 28 and has a margin of error of 2.6 percentage points. Quinnipiac’s longstanding practice is to ask voters which party they identify with, rather than their actual registration, with the argument that self-identification is a better gauge of voter mood. The latest sample found 31 percent saying they consider themselves Democrats, 25 percent Republicans, 34 percent independent and 11 percent identifying with other parties or saying they didn’t know.

During the 2010 midterm elections, exit polls found 36 percent of Florida voters who cast ballots identifying as Democrats, 36 percent as Republicans and 29 percent as independents. In actual statewide registrations, Democrats have a 39.2-to-35.1 percent advantage over Republicans.

Other highlights of the new Quinnipiac poll after the jump…

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Ouch! Democratic leaders in Nan Rich’s home county reject call for primary debate with Crist

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014 by George Bennett

Nan Rich with Hillary Clinton at a 2008 rally at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.

In a blow to Nan Rich in her home county, leaders of the Broward County Democratic Executive Committee on Tuesday night voted down a resolution calling for a Democratic governor’s primary debate between Rich and frontrunner Charlie Crist.

Crist, the former Republican governor who became an independent in 2010 and a Democrat in 2012, has become the heavy favorite to win the Democratic gubernatorial nomination over Rich, a former state Senate Democratic leader from Weston. Crist has rejected Rich’s calls for a primary debate, saying he’s focused only on Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

Broward County DEC Chairman Mitch Ceasar said the party’s Management Committee — a group of about 20 officials — voted down a resolution calling for a Crist-Rich debate after “significant and emotional” discussion. Ceasor wouldn’t reveal the vote totals or discuss how he or other individuals voted.

Broward County has more registered Democrats — 563,805 — than any other county in Florida.

Broward County Democratic State Committeewoman Maggie Davidson, a Rich supporter who brought up the resolution, said: “I’m disappointed but they feel as though the bottom line, I guess, was we didn’t want to have any divisiveness.”

Hillsborough County’s Democratic Executive Committee approved a resolution Monday calling for Crist and Rich to debate.

In Palm Beach County, Democratic Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo declined to take a position on whether Crist and Rich should debate, saying “it’s up to the candidates.”

While Dems sense political theater, Scott takes stage to fight for immigrant tuition

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 by John Kennedy

A few hours after the Senate Appropriations Committee refused to hear an amendment granting in-state tuition to children of undocumented immigrants, Gov. Rick Scott turned to the media Tuesday to keep the issue alive.

The legislation has already cleared the House. But it has hit a roadblock in the Florida Senate where Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, and Senate Budget Chair Joe Negron, R-Stuart, say they will refuse to schedule it.

On Tuesday, Senate Rules Chairman John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, ruled the in-state amendment out of order.

But since Thrasher doubles as Scott’s campaign chairman, the move fed Democratic suspicions that the standoff is mostly political theater — orchestrated to make Scott look heroic among Hispanic voters, with whom polls show he is far behind Democratic rival Charlie Crist.

“This looks like an election year ploy, and that’s pathetic,” House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston of Fort Lauderdale earlier told the Palm Beach Post.

Meeting with reporters outside his Capitol office, Scott blamed Crist both for increasing state tuition and for opposing the in-state tuition provision when he was the state’s Republican governor.

“We’re cleaning up his mess,” Scott said. “I call on the Florida Senate…this is the right thing for the students of our state. We have had a dramatic turnaround in our state. We’ve got to give these children the same opportunity as all children. Whatever country you were born in, whatever family or zip code, you have the chance to live the dream. Part of that dream is being able to afford education.”

As a candidate in 2010, Scott vowed to enact tough, Arizona-style sanctions against illegal immigration to Florida, a promise he later abandoned as governor. Tea party groups remain opposed to the in-state tuition bill, seeing it as rewarding those who are in Florida illegally.

Gaetz said last week that he only recently learned of Scott’s support for the tuition bill, and that the governor had not sought to lobby him. But last week, Scott was joined by former Govs. Jeb Bush and Bob Martinez in calling for action on the bill, a day after Negron said he would not hear the measure in Tuesday’s  Appropriations Committee.

Rep. Ted Deutch: Crist-Rich Democratic primary debate would be ‘worthwhile’

Friday, April 18th, 2014 by George Bennett

Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, at a town hall meeting west of Boynton Beach on Thursday night.


U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, isn’t taking sides in the Democratic primary for governor between Charlie Crist and Nan Rich.

But Deutch sounds sympathetic to calls from underdog Rich — and Republican Gov. Rick Scott — for Crist to debate his Democratic primary rival.

After conducting a town hall meeting with more than 100 people west of Boynton Beach, Deutch was asked by a reporter Thursday night if Crist and Rich should debate.

“I think it would worthwhile for the people of Florida to be reminded of the issues that most people in the state care about, which would be the issues that are debated that night, instead of being forced to watch millions of dollars in commercials funded by outside groups that support the governor,” Deutch said.

Scott also thinks Republican-turned-Democrat Crist should debate former state Sen. Rich. Scott made the suggestion after Crist, in West Palm Beach this week, declared “Give me Scott.”

Scott Facebook townhall features unfriend-ly swipes at Crist

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 by John Kennedy

Gov. Rick Scott takes part in a Facebook townhall from Jacksonville.

Gov. Rick Scott hosted a Facebook townhall Thursday evening from Jacksonville, fielding one question about Charlie Crist while also managing to take a couple swipes at his Democratic rival.

Asked about Crist’s “Gimme Scott” comment this week at a Forum Club meeting in West Palm Beach, Scott shrugged off the challenge. Instead, Scott hinted that Crist shouldn’t look too far past his likely Democratic primary opponent, Nan Rich.

“That’s laughable,” Scott posted. “He has a primary and I’m sure it’s going to be enjoyable watching his debates with Nan Rich.”

But Scott also kept his focus on Crist when another Facebook friend asked if Floridians could face higher taxes if they failed to have health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, dubbed Obamacare.

“Charlie Crist thinks Obamacare is ‘great,’” Scott responded. “I don’t because people are losing their insurance, their doctors and their jobs because of this failed law.

Scott also vowed to hold the line on college and university tuition this year. Unlike, he pointed out, Crist, who as Republican governor from 2007-11, endorsed a law which allowed tuition to climb 15 percent annually.

“We are working to stop the 15% annual increase in tuition plus inflationary increase in tuition passed by Charlie Crist. Call your state legislators and let them know this is important,” Scott told his online audience.

But just as in previous Facebook townhalls, Scott chose to avoid a few questions, too. Several questions went unanswered about why he hasn’t pushed to expand Medicaid to cover some of Florida’s 4 million without health insurance.

Another question challenging Florida for still planning to implement Common Core Standards in classrooms got a less than direct answer from Scott.

“There are two things important to me, one, high standards for Florida students are not negotiable; and two we must prevent the federal government’s overreach into our education system,” he said.

 

 

After one week, Crist spokesman ‘pursuing other opportunities’

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 by George Bennett

A week after he was announced as media contact for Charlie Crist‘s gubernatorial campaign, Eric Conrad and the campaign have parted ways.

“He’s pursuing other opportunities,” was all Crist communications consultant Kevin Cate would say this afternoon.

Conrad, who has worked in Florida with President Barack Obama‘s 2012 re-election campaign, the Florida Democratic Party and Enroll America, didn’t immediately return a call.

It’s the second time Republican-turned-Democrat Crist’s camp has seen a rapid departure from a visible post.

When he launched his campaign in November, Crist planned to bring Democratic hot hand Bill Hyers on as campaign manager after Hyers helmed Bill De Blasio‘s mayoral victory in New York. But Hyers never actually started on the job; Crist said he “wanted to stay in New York because it was good for him.” Crist eventually hired former Obama operative Omar Khan as campaign manager.

Scott’s reelection story gets another chapter in latest TV spot

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 by John Kennedy

Gov. Rick Scott's latest TV ad looks back on his Navy days

Gov. Rick Scott Wednesday launched the second installment of the bi0-pic approach his campaign is using to reintroduce him to Florida voters.

Like his opening TV ad, the newest 30-second spot airing statewide reflects on multimillionaire’s hardscrabble growing up. The ad reflects on his years right out of high school, when he served in the U.S. Navy and later went to college on the G.I. Bill before starting his first business.

Scott’s late mother, Esther, a fixture in his 2010 campaign, also is featured in the spot. She died in late 2012.

“You know, everyone deserves the dignity and the opportunity that comes with a good job,” Scott tells viewers. “That’s what I work on every day.”

Here’s the ad:   bit.ly/1jLhcCN

 

Burt Aaronson, recovering from heart surgery, makes appearance at Crist speech

Monday, April 14th, 2014 by George Bennett

Crist and Aaronson at Kravis Center today.


Six weeks after having a heart valve replaced and receiving a pacemaker, former Palm Beach County commissioner Burt Aaronson is slowly returning to the local political scene.

Aaronson, 85, put in an appearance at a Democratic Club of Greater Boynton meeting last week and today was on hand at the Kravis Center for former Gov. Charlie Crist‘s speech to the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches.

Former Rep. Ron Klein, State Attorney Dave Aronberg and former Commissioner Burt Aaronson.

Aaronson was term-limited as a commissioner in 2012 but remains an influential figure in south-county Democratic politics. He has been a key supporter of former Republican Crist, vouching for him to Democratic clubs and frequently serving as his chauffeur.

Chauffeur duties have been put on hold, said Aaronson, who said doctors have told him not to drive long distances. He got a ride to the Kravis Center today with Boca Raton Councilman Robert Weinroth.

Aaronson and former state Sen. Steve Geller.

“This is too important of an election for me to only worry about myself,” Aaronson said.

Former Democratic state Sen. Steve Geller, a key Crist ally in Broward County, was also at the Kravis Center for Crist’s speech.

“This is Palm Beach, not Broward. It’s your duty to watch him, not mine,” Geller joked to Aaronson.

Charlie Crist: Reporter George Bennett tweets from the Forum Club

Monday, April 14th, 2014 by Palm Beach Post Staff

Follow Post politics writer George Bennett’s live tweets from the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches, where Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist is the featured speaker about noon, and where Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, the running mate of Republican Gov. Rick Scott, plans to be available to respond.


Crist to speak at Forum Club, Lopez-Cantera to be on hand for instant comment

Monday, April 14th, 2014 by George Bennett

Carlos Lopez-Cantera, giving a no vote as state House majority leader in 2011, could reprise his thumbs-down role today when he attends Charlie Crist's speech at the Forum Club. (Florida House of Representatives photo)


Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor who’s now the leading Democratic contender for the job, will speak to a Forum Club of the Palm Beaches lunch at the Kravis Center today.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott‘s campaign is making sure that whatever Crist says won’t go unanswered.

Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera will attend “and will be available to reporters following the event,” according to an advisory from Scott’s re-election campaign.

Follow @gbennettpost on Twitter beginning around noon for real-time updates.

Gov. Scott, former Gov. Martinez, 2006 Dem governor nominee Davis all on hand for business confab

Monday, April 7th, 2014 by George Bennett

Not the Blue Man Group at Palm Beach County Convention Center but Gov. Rick Scott in odd lighting at a business gathering.


WEST PALM BEACH — After failing to persuade Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson to enter the governor’s race this year, former U.S. Rep. and 2006 Democratic nominee for governor Jim Davis says he’s not ready to endorse either of the leading Democrats vying to unseat Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

Former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist — who defeated Davis in the 2006 election — is favored to win the Democratic primary over former state Sen. Nan Rich.

“I spent a lot of time talking with Sen. Nelson because we need a strong governor to lead this state and unite this state,” Davis, a Tampa attorney, said while attending the Palm Beach Strategic Forum at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.

Davis said he hasn’t endorsed Crist or Rich because “I’m still coming off the Sen. Nelson effort.”

Former Rep. Ron Klein (left) and former Gov. Bob Martinez (center) repping Holland & Knight at the convention center.

Davis, former Republican Gov. Bob Martinez and former Democratic Rep. Ron Klein — all members of the Holland & Knight law firm — were on hand for the international business gathering.

Scott spoke briefly in the morning, touting job growth and a drop in unemployment in the state since he took office.

Martinez, who was governor from 1987 to 1991, said the economy should be a plus for Scott.

“The state’s doing real well economically. We weathered the storm as well and without incurring operational deficits. So basically speaking he’s got a real good platform to run from,” Martinez said.

Martinez, Florida’s only governor of Hispanic descent, was asked about the GOP’s poor standing with Hispanic voters.

“It’s sometimes a matter of communication,” Martinez said. “I don’t think there’s that much difference in policy. Sometimes it’s how you communicate policy. Sometimes it’s how you express your views. And I think there the party can do better in terms of explaining what we stand for and when there’s a difference of opinion not to be using hot-button words to describe differences, which too often, unfortunately, that’s done.”

Bill signing or pep rally, Scott signs auto fee cut into law

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014 by John Kennedy

Motorist fee cut by Gov. Rick Scott freighted with election-year politics

In an event with overtones of a campaign pep-rally, Rick Scott signed into law Wednesday legislation rolling back motorist fees by almost $400 million, reversing a 2009 increase the governor tied to his predecessor and likely re-election opponent, Charlie Crist.

Scott, who made the fee-cut the top item on his wish list to lawmakers this spring, blamed Crist for the “tax increase” and said the bill would “right the wrong” of the hike.

The legislation will save motorists between $20 and $25, depending on the size of their vehicles. The fee hikes were signed into law by Crist in 2009, part of a $2.2 billion package of tax and fee increases designed to plug holes in a recession-strapped state budget.

Joining Scott at the bill-signing were House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, and leaders of three statewide business associations, whose statements all pivoted around crediting the governor for re-igniting the state’s economy.

While all found a way to condemn the fee hike, most critics have a checkered history with the boost. Scott’s own lieutenant governor, Carlos Lopez-Cantera, was a House member who, like all but one Republican member of the Legislature, voted for the tax-and-fee increases that year. But on Wednesday, he called it “just another burden approved by the previous administration.”

Senate Democrats in 2009 supported the fee increase, but seven — including Nan Rich, Crist’s rival for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination — later voted against the budget. All 43 House Democrats that year voted against the fee increase.

“It’s about time,” Crist said of Scott’s bill-signing. “When these fees were passed by Rick Scott’s colleagues and signed into law they were never meant to be permanent. I’m surprised it’s taken this long for Governor Scott to realize that it’s time to roll these fees back – better late than never.”

Scott, though, defended his timing.

“We’ve been turning around our economy,” Scott said. “Look at the investments we’ve made in education: A billion-dollars two years in a row, we gave the teachers an opportunity for a pay raise last year, and we continue to fund education this year…look at the money we’re putting into the environment….transportation. This state is heading in the right direction. There’s still more work to do every day.”

The legislation (CS/SB 156) reduces many of the myriad of fees Floridians face when registering a vehicle or motor home, or seek duplicate documents or transfers. The changes would take effect Sept. 1, and would remove $309 million from the state treasury next year and $395 million-a-year after that.

Democrat Crist to speak and sign books at Forum Club; appeared as Republican non-author in 2009

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014 by George Bennett

Crist

Former Gov. Charlie Crist will speak and sign books at an April 14 Forum Club of the Palm Beaches lunch at the Kravis Center.

Crist has appeared at the Forum Club before, but this will be his first time as a Democrat. He’s the Democratic frontrunner for the nomination to challenge Republican Gov. Rick Scott in November.

Crist spoke to the nonpartisan luncheon society in January 2009 as Florida’s Republican governor. Foreshadowing his eventual split with the GOP, Crist in that appearance expressed optimism about the Democratic stimulus package taking shape in Washington under recently inaugurated President Barack Obama.

Crist was also scheduled to speak to the club in 2010 as a no-party candidate for U.S. Senate in a debate with Democratic Senate nominee Kendrick Meek. But Crist pulled out the day before because of a union picket of the Kravis Center. Meek also canceled.

Tickets for Crist’s speech are $35 for Forum Club members; $45 for guest tickets ordered by members; $45 for club applicant; and $60 for the general public. For tickets, call Forum Club Administrator Wendy Norris: (561) 881-9977. Mail checks to: P.O. Box 14877, North Palm Beach, FL 33408.

After the speech, Barnes & Noble will hold a book sale and signing of Crist’s book The Party’s Over: How the Extreme Right Hijacked the GOP and I Became a Democrat.

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