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News Story
Updated: 02/01/2014 01:19:01AM

GOP attacks Crist on economy, seeking Senate seat

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By BRENDAN FARRINGTON

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Republican Party of Florida is spending at least $100,000 on a Web ad blaming former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist for the state’s economic downturn — and criticizing him for running for the U.S. Senate in the middle of it.

The party is buying ad space on YouTube, Hulu and other websites. It comes as now-Democrat Crist prepares to bring on a campaign manager in his effort to win back his old job with his new party and as a Quinnipiac University poll this week showed Crist with an eight-point lead over Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

The ad is called “Ran Away” and lists the state’s economic problems under Crist — including leading the nation in home foreclosures, soaring unemployment, steep drops in property values and more.

“Which governor took Florida to the bottom?” an announcer asks. “Charlie Crist. What’s worse, he didn’t stay to fix the mess. He ran away. Tried to go to Washington instead. Charlie Crist — slick politician, lousy governor.”

While it’s true Florida’s economy tanked while Crist was governor, there was a global economic downturn and Florida would have been caught up in it regardless of who was governor. Still Scott’s campaign and Republicans are making the economy a main focus in November’s election, including the fact that unemployment has gone down since Scott took office three years ago.

Crist ran for Senate in 2010 instead of seeking a second term as governor. While he began the campaign as a Republican, he finished it as an independent candidate after falling behind eventual winner Marco Rubio in the Republican primary.

Crist’s gubernatorial campaign used the release of the ad as an opportunity to criticize Scott’s recently released budget proposal, which relies on an increase in property taxes to help boost school funding.

“Charlie Crist is fighting for an economy that is fair and works for the middle class, while Rick Scott is raising taxes on the middle class to provide special tax breaks for the special interests funding these negative ads,” said spokesman Kevin Cate.

Meanwhile, Crist’s campaign announced that Omar Khan will fill the role of campaign manager in February. Khan is leaving a position with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to run the campaign. He was President Barack Obama’s national associate political director during the 2012 re-election campaign and served as the Florida deputy political director on Obama’s 2008 campaign.

“I love him. He loves Florida. He’s coming home to help us put the people back in charge,” Crist said through a spokesman.


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