Crist hires two former Obama aides for gubernatorial bid

Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is seeking his old job as a Democrat, with the help of two former Obama aides, (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News)
Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is seeking his old job as a Democrat, with the help of two former Obama aides, (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News)

Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has brought on two former Obama campaign aides--including the manager of the president's 2012 reelection bid, Jim Messina-- in his effort to unseat Florida's current governor, Rick Scott (R), as a Democrat.

"RT to help me welcome @Messina2012 to the People's Team," Crist's campaign tweeted Monday night.

The campaign tweeted later the same evening that it had hired Tedd Goff, who directed digital strategy for Obama's 2012 campaign, along with Goff's firm Precision Strategies. Other partners at Precision Strategies include Stephanie Cutter, who served as Obama's deputy campaign manager two years ago.

Goff will be doing digital outreach, just like he did in 2012 for Obama, while Messina will be giving general advice, according to a person close to the campaign who asked not to be identified because it involved a personnel matter.

"The People’s Governor is bringing together a winning campaign team so we can build a fairer economy for the middle class in Florida," campaign spokesman Kevin Cate wrote in an e-mail, adding that both Messina and Goff will serve as advisers rather than full-time staffers.

Messina--who now works as a consultant, represents a range of political and corporate clients including Britain's Conservative Party.

The new hires represent the latest staff shakeups for Crist, who was a Republican while serving as governor before switching to become first an independent and then, a Democrat. This fall Crist hired Bill Hyers, the strategist behind Bill DeBlasio's successful bid to become New York City mayor, only to have him leave in December.

Messina praised Crist in a recent interview with The Miami Herald, saying he went out of his way to help Obama win reelection in a crucial swing state.

"He did whatever we asked and was very helpful giving strategic advice,” Messina said. “He gave a very important Democratic National Convention speech... It framed the election in an important way. And he was very important to the fact that Barack Obama won Florida."

Juliet Eilperin is a White House correspondent for The Washington Post, covering domestic and foreign policy as well as the culture of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. She is the author of two books—one on sharks, and another on Congress, not to be confused with each other—and has worked for the Post since 1998.
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