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Crist's TV spot to start campaign

Published May 25, 2006

Charlie Crist kicks off the air war in Florida's governor's race this weekend.

Flush from record-breaking fundraising and eager to define himself to voters before his opponents try to define him themselves, the Republican front-runner is set to air on Sunday a feel-good TV spot touting his record as attorney general, education commissioner and state senator.

"We're kicking off our 100-days-to-victory plan," said Crist campaign spokeswoman Vivian Myrtetus, referring to the Sept. 5 Republican primary pitting Crist against Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher.

She declined to provide details of the ad, produced by media consultants Stuart Stevens and Russ Schriefer. It is expected to air at least in the Tampa Bay, Orlando, Jacksonville and Fort Myers media markets.

"We are running a campaign based on traditional grass roots strategies aimed at reaching out to all Floridians," said Crist, who plans a three-day bus tour next month.

In a state as big as Florida, TV ads are central part of statewide campaigns. Crist's opening volley is early, but hardly unprecedented in modern gubernatorial politics. Jeb Bush aired the first spots in his two successful campaigns in April and mid May.

In 1994, Republican gubernatorial underdog Ander Crenshaw aired the first TV commercial in April, and in 1990, Democrat Bill Nelson launched the opening spot of the campaign in early May.

Through March 31, Crist had raised more than $8.8-million, compared with $6.68-million for Gallagher. The Democrats, state Sen. Rod Smith and U.S. Rep. Jim Davis, are likely to have to wait longer before going on the air, each having raised less than $2.3-million.

Adam C. Smith can be reached at 727 893-8241 or

[Last modified May 25, 2006, 05:26:03]

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