© 2023 WFSU Public Media
WFSU News · Tallahassee · Panama City · Thomasville
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

RPOF Launches Anti-Crist Social Media Campaign

The first shots have been fired in Florida’s 2014 battle for Governor. The Republican Party of Florida is rolling out a social media campaign against the presumptive opponent, former governor and Republican turned Democrat, Charlie Crist.

That’s a new ad from the Florida Republican Party’s “this day in CRIST-ory” campaign, which is a play on the adage “this day in history,” and GOP officials are hoping the campaign’s Tumblr, Twitter, and Youtube accounts will reach young and independent voters. Republican Party of Florida Chair Lenny Curry said the campaign focuses on what he calls a different “inconsistency” in Crist’s record every day. Such as Crist signing tax increases into law after saying he didn’t support them.

“You know a lot of folks are paying attention to social media now. Many times when things are picked off of social media they get into print media and also into television and what not. So, this is just an opportunity for us to share with the voting public the record of Charlie Crist,” Curry explained.

The new social media offensive comes after a national Republican self-described “autopsy” conducted by party leaders showed the need to refocus campaign efforts from television and radio to online-based social media like Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter. Because most social media networks are free doctoral candidate at Florida State University’s Department of Marketing Todd Bacile thinks social media is a great deal for campaigns.

“The amount of information and the ease in disseminating it is just incredible,” Bacile said.

The first wave of “Crist-ory” ads attack Crist’s signing of the 2009 budget which included more than $2 billion in extra taxes and fees on things like tobacco products and auto- registrations. But Kevin Cate, who owns a PR firm in Tallahassee and is a former Obama Campaign staffer for North Florida, pointed out that the ad neglects the fact that a Republican legislature voted for the budget before it even hit Crist’s desk.

“I thought they got the name wrong. It should’ve been this day in hypocrisy. Because they’re attacking the same policies that they’ve been peddling in Tallahassee for the past 15 years they’ve been in power and all of a sudden they don’t like it anymore because Charlie Crist is potentially going to run against their unpopular Governor Rick Scott,” Cate said.

And according to a poll released in March by Public Policy Polling, the incumbent governor might very well have a popularity problem. The poll showed Scott’s approval rating hovering around 30 percent. And if Scott had faced Crist in an election when that poll came out, the sitting governor would lose 40 to 52 percent. Crist hasn’t definitively said he would run which might have some puzzled as to why the GOP would throw so much into a campaign against him now. But, political scientist, Susan McManus, theorized Republicans might be trying to end a Crist campaign, before it starts.

“If it were to keep Crist from running that may very well be the intention of this campaign because it’s likely that Republicans think that he may be the stronger candidate since the polls are showing that and so they might hope to make Democrats a bit uneasy about his candidacy and end up nominating someone else,” McManus said.

Although likely, it isn’t definite, that Crist will attempt to reclaim the governor’s chair. But the “CRIST-ory” social media campaign shows Republicans aren’t taking any chances, even if Florida’s gubernatorial race is more than a year away.