So, this happened. Former Obama Campaign Manager Jim Messina has joined Charlie Crist’s gubernatorial campaign as announced via Charlie Crist’s Twitter feed and subsequent media reports. Many know Jim Messina for his work on both Obama presidential campaigns, but his resume also includes strategist to Britain’s Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron during his last campaign. Messina is also bringing with him Teddy Goff who served as Obama’s Digital Director on the 2012 campaign.
But what does this mean for campaign infrastructure going forward? Steve Schale, who ran Barack Obama’s Florida campaign in 2008, was Charlie Crist’s chief strategist up to this point and through the sudden hiring and subsequent mysterious departure of New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s former campaign manager Bill Hyer, as reported by Adam Smith in the Tampa Bay Times. There haven’t been any reports mentioning how this will affect his role in the campaign, if at all, going forward. Crist’s campaign team has been made up of a who’s who of OFA alumni, as reported in the Miami Herald.
The hiring of Messina is a really big deal for a variety of reasons, most importantly that it gives the Florida Democratic Party a grassroots army against a $100 million dollar conservative war chest that Rick Scott is currently building (with reinforcements) that the Dems have sorely lacked until now. The question of whether this will lead to higher than usual Democratic turnout in special election and off year election turnout remains to be answered.
We’ll continue to follow the Crist-Scott race closely throughout the year.