ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Charlie Crist just can’t help himself. If there’s an election — he’s not especially picky about the race, whether it’s for governor, the Senate or the House, or the party, Republican, Democrat or independent, he’s tried them all — his name will be on the ballot.
The former governor of Florida, Crist has been perpetually running for one office or another for the past 25 years. But the personal stakes of his current race for Congress, in a district where he once played quarterback for his high school football team, are higher than ever.
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Well known around here not just for his distinct look — the year-round Florida tan, his neatly combed crop of snow white hair — Crist has been asking Pinellas County voters for their support since he was 9 years old, helping his dad campaign for school board.
Now, after back-to-back statewide losses (first for the Senate in 2010 and then in a retry for the governor’s mansion in 2014), Crist and his critics recognize that this election will offer either some measure of redemption or deliver the final, sour note of his once-promising political career. Lose this time — the onetime Republican and independent is running as a Democrat against GOP Rep. David Jolly — and even Crist’s allies say he’s done.
“Truly, for him, this is win or go home,” said Democratic strategist Steve Schale, a Florida operative who advised Crist in his last governor’s race but isn’t involved in this campaign.
Just don’t expect Crist, who’s known for his soft-spoken, polished, always-on-message style, to say as much.
“I don’t think there’s a need to speculate about that,” Crist said in an interview when asked if his campaign for the redrawn Florida’s 13th District would be his last. “I don’t think it will …