Florida's largest labor organization endorses Charlie Crist ahead of Democratic primary
The Florida AFL-CIO chose Crist on Friday, capping its two-day endorsing convention in Orlando.
“It’s all on the line in November,” Crist said of the upcoming general election when whichever Democrat wins the nomination faces off against Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. “The freedom to form a union, reproductive freedom, the freedom from politics in our classroom — and that’s why we are going to win.”
The Florida AFL-CIO represents 1.6 million members, retirees and their family members. The organization is expected to provide phone-banking and direct mail in support of Crist heading toward the August 23 primary.
Both Crist and Fried focused Friday on the U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and ending the constitutional right to abortion. The two candidates attended events decrying the decision, which for Democrats may prove a fresh rallying point for this year’s elections.
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Crist, though, for months has been courting endorsements from large membership organizations, which can help push voters to cast ballots in what is usually a low-turnout August primary.
The St. Petersburg congressman and former Republican governor was seen as having an edge for the AFL-CIO nod, since the federation’s largest organization, the Florida Education Association, has already endorsed him.
Along with the FEA, the state’s largest teachers’ union, Crist has nabbed endorsements from the Sierra Club of Florida, Communications Workers of America and the Service Employees International Union, large, influential organizations in Democratic politics.
For her part, Fried, the state's Agriculture Commissioner, has included in her string of endorsements, backing from the Democratic Black Caucus of Florida, the Florida College Democrats and Women’s Voices of Southwest Florida, groups which touted her strengths in areas ranging from voting access to abortion rights.
Turnout could be tricky in a contest where neither leading Democrat has much money for a TV campaign to remind supporters to vote.
DeSantis faces no Republican primary opponent and has a clear path to November. He’s already raised $124 million for his re-election campaign and beyond, and is already viewed as a likely Republican presidential contender in 2024.
By contrast, Crist had raised $10.2 million, with $6.3 million cash-on-hand at the beginning of June. Fried, had collected $6.9 million with $3.9 million to spend.
Both, however, do plan to spend on TV ads ahead of the primary, likely sapping whatever money is left. National Democratic support, though, is expected to help make the party’s eventual nominee rebound for the November race against the Republican governor.
John Kennedy is a reporter in the USA TODAY Network’s Florida Capital Bureau. He can be reached at email@example.com, or on Twitter at @JKennedyReport