Rep. Charlie Crist Running For Governor
REP. CHARLIE CRIST: Thank you so much. Good morning, St. Petersburg. It is so good to be with you today in the Sunshine City in the Sunshine State. Listen, I want to thank everyone who's here today. Thank you for your leadership and for your commitment to the people. My friends, on days like these, the possibilities seem absolutely endless, and the opportunities for every Floridian to reach their full potential goes as far as the blue skies and the beautiful sunsets we enjoy in Florida.
For generations, our state has served as a true beacon for people seeking a fresh start in the land of paradise. That's my family's story, too. My grandfather, Adam Christodoulos, came to this country in 1914 from the Greek Island of Cyprus. Even though he came through Ellis Island with just pennies, he eventually made his way to Pennsylvania. He couldn't speak the language and he only had a third grade education. He didn't speak English. He didn't know anyone. But he was full-- full of determination and faith in the promise that is America.
He shined shoes for a living for $5 a month. He worked hard. He saved his money, and he opened a small business-- a dry cleaning business and a cafe. My grandfather clean clothes for years. He used to say he clean clothes of all the doctors in the town so that his son, my father, Charlie Crist, Sr., could go to college and become a doctor himself. Raising four kids in America's middle class, including me, my parents moved to St. Petersburg when I was just three years old.
Regardless of your place of birth or your race or your gender or your wealth, for a century, people have been coming to Florida to pursue that same American dream-- to raise a family, to work hard, to send their kids to good public schools, and to try to put away a little so they can retire with dignity.
I grew up in this wonderful city. I went to St. Pete High. I graduated from Florida State University. My family's story-- [INAUDIBLE]-- my family's story is the American story. It's a story of American opportunity. It's unique to our Florida. My grandfather's struggle, the opportunities he provided my father and me, and the values my mom and dad taught me and my three sisters-- that's why two of my sisters became public school teachers. That's why I've dedicated my life to public service. And that's why I'm a proud Florida Democrat.
That's why I'm an eternal optimist, too. Because this is an only in Florida story that beats in my heart. But these days, it's so much harder for Floridians to pursue their dreams. It's harder to thrive or even survive in Florida's economy. Every year, the middle class gets squeezed by rent, by housing costs, utility bills, health care costs, student loan debt, and stagnant wages. People of color continue to be systemically locked out of opportunity and equal treatment. And during this pandemic, Black and Hispanic residents are more likely to get COVID, more likely to die from it, more likely to be unemployed, and less likely to receive a vaccine.
A century ago, our country welcomed my grandfather, gave him the opportunity to work hard and to rise up. Today, working people are still full of hope, still working hard, but too many are struggling to put food on the table and keep a roof over their head. This isn't by accident, my friends. The deck is stacked against the middle class, aided and abetted by Governor Ron DeSantis and his Republican allies in Tallahassee. This is a governor who doesn't listen, who doesn't care, and doesn't think about you, unless, of course, you can write him a campaign check. Really, he sees our state's wonderful diversity as a threat, not as a strength we all celebrate.
He's failed to lead during the greatest health and economic crisis of our lifetime. Local officials were forced to fend for themselves without direction from our state. Scientists and doctors offered advice, but he listened to quacks and conspiracy theories. He's waged a constant assault on democracy from voting rights to civil rights. He's promised tax cuts to the wealthy and the corporations and the well-connected, yet our unemployment benefits are still some of the lowest in America.
Governor DeSantis' vision of Florida is clear. If you want to vote, he won't help you. If you're working, he won't support you. If you're a woman, he will not empower you. If you're an immigrant, he won't accept you. and if you're facing discrimination, he won't respect you. If you're sick, he won't care for you. If you're impacted by climate change-- and we all are-- he won't even believe you. That's not a vision for our state. That's why in Florida, where opportunities should exist for everyone willing to work hard. Millions of people are just barely getting by.
Changing this is not going to be easy. Powerful special interests depend on Governor DeSantis for their massive profits, and they'll spend tens of millions of dollars to stop us. Because if everyone rises up, they can't stay on top. No, friends, this won't be an easy fight, but nothing in life worth fighting for is easy. I'm announcing today that I'm running for governor of Florida for a Florida for all.
Yeah, it's a little hot here, but we're in the Sunshine City in the Sunshine State, and we're just getting started. We need to stop the division and the hate. We need to bring our state together and finally open up opportunity for every Floridian, because you deserve jobs you can live on, housing that you can afford, and justice that is truly equal. And that's what I'll fight for every single day. I'm running.
Thank you. I'm running so you will be in charge again. So you will have a governor who will work for the people with a steady hand and an open heart that is a moment built on consensus rather than fueling division. To restore civility instead of demonizing those who have a different point of view, together we will build a Florida for all.