Former Rep. Robert Wexler (D) endorsed Florida Gov. Charlie Crist’s Senate campaign Sunday, choosing the Republican-turned-Independent over his fellow Miami-area Democrat, Rep. Kendrick Meek.
“Charlie Crist has repeatedly demonstrated the integrity and independence Washington needs right now to help Florida’s working families through these tough times,” Wexler said in a statement released by the Crist campaign. “As he’s always done, Governor Crist will work with both Democrats and Republicans to create jobs, to ensure Israel remains our closest friend and ally, and to keep the promise of Social Security to our seniors as we know it today. For those reasons, I am proud to endorse Charlie Crist for the United States Senate.”
Wexler, who resigned from Congress in January to serve as president of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, is campaigning with Crist at two Florida stops Sunday, at Temple Beth Shalom in Boca Raton and at Kings Point in Tamarac. Wexler was elected to seven terms in the Boca Raton-based 19th district, which includes a large Jewish constituency in Broward and Palm Beach counties. The district is just north of Meek’s Miami-based 17th district.
The endorsement of Crist, who was a Republican until leaving the party earlier this year, is notable in that Wexler had a liberal voting record in the House and wrote a book titled “Fire-Breathing Liberal.” But Wexler and Crist have had a close relationship since they served together in the state Legislature in Tallahassee. The former Congressman accompanied Crist to Israel on what was his first trip outside the country as governor.
To compete with Republican Marco Rubio, Crist needs to take a big chunk of Democratic votes from Meek, whom national Democrats are standing behind. Meek has received significant fundraising help from President Bill Clinton, and Vice President Joseph Biden stumped for the Congressman on Friday in Florida.