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NEW PORT RICHEY — Wearing a short-sleeved button down tucked into faded jeans and flanked by a gaggle of campaign members, Charlie Crist visited retirees in their Pasco County homes Friday morning.
About 135,000 more Republicans than Democrats had voted by Friday, but the former Republican governor now running as a Democrat said he is not worried.
“We don’t know who they’re voting for. We only know the label,” he said. “Who they vote for is really what’s important.”
As Crist made his way through the Heritage Lakes retirement community, several people stopped to shake his hand and thank him. One resident, once a Republican, said he has been praying the rosary for Crist.
The community’s facilities manager, Lois Fricke, told Crist she applauds what he stands for, pointing toward his heart.
“You hear a lot of that flip-flop, flip-flop, but what’s right here, that’s you,” she said.
Fricke, 66 and a registered Republican, said she believes in the changes Crist has promised.
Crist said he is winning crossover votes, starting with Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano, a Republican who joined him to knock on doors Friday, and his own parents.
Earlier Friday in St. Petersburg, Crist mingled with the patrons and employees at Munch’s diner, where the vast majority said they supported him and had already voted.
“Our opponent is spending so much money and so much on trash — most of that this week — it really pleases me that most people vote before most of that garbage goes in the TV,” said Crist who also revealed his favorite Halloween candy - mints.
The Crist campaign says Gov. Rick Scott ramped up his TV ad spending to more than $11 million for the final week, which dwarfs the Democrats.
Several residents told Crist they understand and admire his departure from the Republican Party.
“I’ll vote for this one, that one, whatever he is, as long as he’s a good man,” said Richard Boyle, 86, an unaffiliated voter who supports Crist.
Heritage Lakes resident Kay Rieber, 91, told Crist that her Duke Energy bills have skyrocketed, reaching $185 for her small residence in October — with an additional $87 charge she attributed to the company’s change in billing cycles that has angered many of the utility’s users.
“This man will change that,” Fasano told her. Rieber urged Crist: “Do good by us.”
Not all residents responded as warmly. As Crist departed one house, he wished the older women there well.
“I hope you all vote,” he said.
“We will,” the women chimed back.
Then, as Crist strolled away, one said in a mock whisper: “But not Democrat!”...
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