He was accompanied by veteran Democratic strategist, Ashley Walker, who ran President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in Florida. She took pains to emphasize she’s not working for him.
Though he’s been out of office since January 2011, he hasn’t lost the people skills that make him one of the nation’s best retail politicians.
Before he stepped out of an elevator, he said hello to a fellow passenger and asked how she was doing.
The woman said it was her birthday.
“30th?” he said. No, she replied: 40. Crist insisted it was “30” – leaving the woman beaming.
Patricia Byrd, from Panama City, and Samantha Hope-Herring, from Walton County, went up to the former governor and came away with smart phone pictures.
“I think he’s a fair person. When he was a Republican governor he tired to cross party lines and be fair,” Byrd said. “I think he’s a very viable candidate.”
Hope-Herring called Crist a “viable candidate” for the Democrats.
Alex Sink is making the rounds, and sounding an awful lot like a candidate for governor.
In an interview, she blasted Gov. Rick Scott as “so ill equipped, so incompetent. Doesn’t understand Florida yet. Has made a lot of bad decisions and I think it’s going to be easy for us to craft a message and inspire voters to get to the polls next November and get him out of office.”
Sink, who served one term as Florida’s chief financial officer and was the unsuccessful Democratic nominee for governor, said she’s considering entering the race for the party’s 2014 nomination to run for governor.
“It’s time for me to seriously consider whether I might intend to be a candidate again,” she said. “I’m just getting connected with a lot of former supporters and a lot of Democratic activists and beginning to think through the process of whether I might run again.”
She’s been largely on the political sidelines for the last six months, following the death in December of her husband, Bill McBride, who was the Democrats’ nominee for governor in 2002.
McBride lost to re-election seeking Gov. Jeb Bush. Sink lost to political newcomer Rick Scott.
What factors will go into the decision?
“I am not going to run unless I am totally confident that I will win. That’s first,” she said in an interview.
“And that means having a lot of support from Democrats. It means raising the money it takes to wage an effective campaign. We know regardless we’re going to be outspent 2:1,” she said. “We have to evaluate to e sure that the voters are paying attention this time.”
She said she and her children will “have a little family meeting in the next couple of weeks and decide where we might be going.” She said she’d have to start raising money by fall if she’s going to run.
Speaking to a gathering of state representatives, she said Democrats need to improve their messaging. She called for an agreement “on three top line messages for a platform to be talking about like a drumbeat.”