One of Charlie Crist’s best traits is his likability.
He can be a candle-in-the-wind on issues, depending on his audience. Changing parties infuriated Republicans and made Democrats skeptical. And once he gets a job, he tends to get wandering eyes for his next gig. But damn, he is a really nice guy. Despite his baggage, people like him and a lot of them vote for him.
That’s one reason he rose above the political tsunami that swamped Democrats nationwide and beat another good guy in Republican David Jolly to represent Florida’s 13th Congressional District.
Given that, it’s puzzling that Crist so far apparently hasn’t used his best trait to solidify the home base, even as he adjusts to life in the U.S. House of Representatives. Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times reported Sunday Crist has had a series of stumbles that have supporters wondering what the heck is going on.
Smith wrote that Crist and his wife, Carole, who is paid to oversee his political activities, “generated widespread grumbling and head-scratching about his clumsy start in Congress, even among longtime friends.”
Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long, a Democrat, told the newspaper Crist hasn’t touched base with her since he left for Washington.
“I can only compare the two, and right after David Jolly was elected he was calling my office and asking for a meeting and wanting to work together,” she said. “We built a very tight relationship. I’m hoping we can build the same kind of relationship with Charlie.”
Compare Crist to other members of Congress from the area. Democrat U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor frequently returns to Tampa and Hillsborough County to keep in touch with voters.
Republicans Gus Bilirakis (District 12) and Rep. Dennis Ross (District 15) do the same.
Bilirakis, as was widely reported, held a second “listening session” Saturday with Pasco County voters who