Potential DeSantis Challenger Charlie Crist Is ‘Open’ to Forcing Masks in Florida

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL) wears a mask as he listens to other speakers at a press conference to announce a solar plower initiative for the state, Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022, in South Miami, Fla. The Democratic U.S. congressman is running for governor of Florida.
Rebecca Blackwell/AP

Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL), who is vying to challenge Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in Florida’s gubernatorial race, said he is “open” to mandating masks in the Sunshine State — a stark contrast from DeSantis, who never once implemented a statewide mask mandate, instead prioritizing freedom throughout the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.

People run on the beach on April 17, 2020 in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

The Democrat made the admission during a campaign event in Wilton Manors, Florida, after an attendee asked if he would be “open to mandating or regulating masks” if need be as governor.

“I would be open to doing what scientists advise — not political scientists,” Crist said. “Yes. I just read an article this morning. I’m glad you brought it up.”

Crist also used the opportunity to virtue-signal, telling attendees that he planned to wear a mask on a plane, even though it is no longer forced, thanks to the ruling of a federal judge out of Florida.

“So I’m going to the airport right after this. I’m going to Orlando, and I’m going to wear a mask on the plane. You don’t have to anymore, but I’m going to because Florida is experiencing an uptick that began this week. And it’s not even the Omicron B2. It’s a new variant,” Crist said.

His remark generated significant mockery across social media, as Florida, under DeSantis’s leadership, has stood as a bastion of freedom in the era of lockdowns and mandates.

“This will be the demise of your Governor campaign!” one user on Twitter said.

“Everything Crist says here shows why he shouldn’t bother. He’s going to attack DeSantis on masks and COVID? The most successful Gov. in the country on these two issues?” another remarked.

“This will go over well in Florida,” Jesse Hunt, the Republican Governors Association’s communications director, sarcastically remarked.

DeSantis, however, has continued to stand firm, even in the face of constant criticisms and attacks from the establishment media and blue state leaders throughout the pandemic. While leftists criticized him for refusing to implement extended lockdowns and mandates, Florida continued to thrive, and cases continued to spike in heavily-restricted blue states while the Sunshine State enjoyed low figures. As a result, Florida’s economy bounced back, and it even saw the highest level of domestic visitation in history in 2021 as Americans sought relief from blue state restrictions. 

Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP, Ron DeSantis, Republican, for Governor

Ron DeSantis smiles as he speaks to the legislature. (Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP; inset: Ron DeSantis for Governor)

DeSantis has warned on more than one occasion that Americans must be wary heading into the midterm elections, as many of these lockdown politicians will be willing to reinstitute mandates if they get elected. 

“It’s wrong to mandate people and restrict people, and that will happen. I guarantee you, winter of 2022, any of those folks that are there, you are going to see that happen,” he said of the likelihood of leftists reimposing mandates. 

“The only way to make sure it doesn’t happen is to have a nice, big, red wave. So, we’ll see,” he added.

The current RealClearPolitics average shows DeSantis besting his potential challenger by an average of 8.8 percent, but a recent University of North Florida poll showed a blowout in the potential matchup, with DeSantis leading the Democrat by 21 percent. 


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