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Crist announces Straz endorsement

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Published:   |   Updated: April 2, 2014 at 04:48 PM

Former Gov. Charlie Crist appeared at Tampa's Straz Center for the Performing Arts Tuesday to announce an endorsement from banking magnate and philanthropist David Straz, who happens to be a Republican and a former supporter of the Republican Crist hopes to unseat in the governor's race, Gov. Rick Scott.

Straz said he backs people of both parties, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, a Democrat, and has become disillusioned with Scott.

“I believe that it is the responsibility of each of us to give back to our communities,” he said. “Unfortunately, some outsiders come to Florida and just take.”

He said Scott “took from Floridians as a CEO,” an apparent reference to Scott's career as head of a hospital chain, which included an investigation and $1.7 billion fine for Medicare fraud.

“He took away high-speed transportation and jobs from the city of Tampa. He wanted to take away $4.8 billion from education and he took away access to affordable health care for 1.1 million Floridians.”

Those are Crist campaign points, referring to Scott's decision to reject federal money for a high-speed Tampa-Orlando rail line and expansion of the state's Medicaid program.

Straz, namesake of the performing arts center, said he has confidence in Charlie Crist. … He's not motivated by accumulating personal wealth. In fact he doesn't have any.”

He said Crist will “do what is right,” including making the state economy “fairer for the middle class and for businesses of all shapes and sizes,” expanding job training and protecting the state's environment and people.

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