Politics & Government

Independent Gov. Crist woos Florida's Democrats

When introducing the Republican-turned-independent Gov. Charlie Crist to a left-leaning crowd Wednesday, Democratic state Rep. Ari Porth joked that he had brought Crist some rugelah so he could have a taste of Broward.

But Crist didn't need the little traditional Jewish pastry to help him bond with the gray-haired, star of David-wearing crowd -- he knew his audience, talking up Israel and vowing to protect Social Security.

The several hundred seniors who gathered at the Wynmoor condo complex theater in Coconut Creek enthusiastically clapped several times for Crist -- a few gave him a standing ovation.

Crist sees politically fertile ground in places like Wynmoor, and his campaign is determined to grab a piece of it as they prepare for a three-way race in November against Republican Marco Rubio and the winner of Tuesday's Democratic primary (Rep. Kendrick Meek and real-estate tycoon Jeff Greene are in a tight race.).

Since leaving the GOP, Crist has ramped up his schmoozing in the Democratic Jewish bastions in South Florida. In June, he visited Century Village in Deerfield Beach for a ceremonial bill signing where he greeted the mostly Jewish crowd with "Mazel Tov" before playing up that his wife is from New York.

Crist plans to speak at the Jewish Center in Century Village Pembroke Pines in September, and his campaign has had discussions with Kings Point in Tamarac about visiting there, too. Both communities represent large contingents of loyal Democratic voters like Wynmoor.

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