Charlie Crist joins other Democrats in making abortion access rights campaign focus


At a Democrats’ rally in Orlando aimed at appealing to younger “Gen-Z” voters, gubernatorial candidate U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and a host of other candidates made it clear that abortion access rights will be front-and-center in this autumn’s campaign.

“In this election, the choice is choice,” Crist said. “That’s what’s on the ballot: freedom to choose. The opportunity for women to be able to express their own point of view about their body, about your health. Who else should have that decision? Nobody. You. It’s your decision. That’s what’s on the ballot. That’s what this election is all about.”

Crist followed numerous Central Florida Democratic candidates, including Maxwell Alejandro Frost, who will likely be the first Gen-Z member to be elected to Congress. The 25-year-old is the Democrats’ Primary Election winner in the strongly Democratic Florida’s 10th Congressional District in northern Orange County.

Also speaking was Crist’s running mate, lieutenant governor candidate Karla Hernández.

All of the Democratic speakers — Rep. Joy Goff-Marcil who is running for the Senate, Reps. Anna V. Eskamani and Carlos G. Smith, House candidates Tiffany Hughes, Allie Braswell, Frost, Hernández and Crist, made abortion access rights powerful parts of their message to an invitation-only crowd at the Renaissance Theater Co. stage in Orlando.

The Democrats appear convinced that abortion access rights are a winning theme for the general electorate, especially for women, and, in Tuesday’s rally in Orlando, particularly for young voters. While there, Crist and Hernández picked up the endorsement of the Voters of Tomorrow organization, which is not a major surprise as that group has been endorsing Democrats including Frost, in several states.

The Democratic candidates sought to make the choice clear between their support for abortion access and Republicans’, led by Crist’s and Hernández’ Republican opponents Gov. Ron DeSantis and Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, opposition, even in cases of rape, incest and the lives of mothers.

They argued the Florida Republicans made that clear with the 15-week abortion ban approved this year. The Democrats made it clear they intend to convince voters that Republicans would follow through with a total abortion ban now that Roe v. Wade has been struck down by the Supreme Court of the United States, though DeSantis and some other Republicans have been careful not to commit one way or the other to a total ban.

“In campaigns, you hope, and you pray that it’s not very confusing what the choice is,” Crist said. “The choice is choice. Very simple. Pretty darn simple. You know when he (DeSantis) talks about that we are the freest state in America, well evidently not if you’re a woman.”

Abortion was a prominent Democratic Primary issue. Crist’s opponent, Democratic Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, questioned his career-long commitment to abortion rights. Crist defended his record and rhetoric then — and had abortion rights champions like Eskamani, Smith and Goff-Marcil defending his record (and rhetoric) on Tuesday.

Hernández went after Nuñez.

“First and foremost, it is my sincere privilege to be in this room today standing here as a woman, a mother, a Latina, as we rally to beat back the brazen and vile anti-women policy of Ron DeSantis and Jeanette Nuñez,” Hernández said. “Jeanette Nuñez is a person who has enjoyed all the freedom America has to offer and is now selling out all women in Florida by proposing Ron take away our right to do what we choose with our body.”

Others pushed the issue for their own campaigns.

Hughes is running in the new House District 39, serving northwestern Orange and southwestern Seminole counties. Her Republican opponent Doug Bankson made it clear he wants abortion entirely banned, from conception on, making no exceptions for anything, including a woman’s risk of death from a crisis pregnancy.

“I’m in this fight because it is up to us to make sure Republicans feel the consequences of stripping away our rights, the consequences of taking away our choice,” Hughes said. “Because last time I checked it’s our right, our body, and it’s none of their business.”

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