On Thursday, July 17, 2014, Florida gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist fired the political shot heard around the Sunshine State, picking Miami-Dade County Democratic Party Chairwoman Annette Taddeo-Goldstein as his running mate ahead of the coming primary. The Republican-turned-Democrat faces off against former Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich for the party's gubernatorial nomination and right to challenge incumbent Republican Governor Rick Scott.
The decision is seen by many as an attempt by Crist to unify the party in the event he is able to defeat Rich in the primary. Should he succeed, experts believe Crist and Taddeo-Goldstein’s cross-state appeal will present Gov. Scott with a significant challenge on the campaign trail. A native of Colombia, Taddeo-Goldstein is regarded in many circles as a no-brainer choice, and her appeal to Florida’s Hispanic population is considered essential winning any election. Crist, speaking to Miami television station WPLG, was quite effusive about his choice.
"Annette is a remarkable woman and a classic American success story. She will make an excellent lieutenant governor because as a working mom she knows Florida families are struggling to pay their bills, raise their kids and save for retirement, and because she believes, as I do, that all Floridians deserve a fair shot at success."
Critics, however, see the choice merely as a counterweight to Governor Scott’s current Lt. Gov., Carlos Lopez-Cantera, who accepted the post in February. Lopez-Cantera, also hailing from Miami-Dade County, was selected after a 10 month search following the sudden resignation of former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, who left office in 2012 after allegations of a sex scandal arose during her tenure as State Representative from Jacksonville.
Despite Lopez-Cantera and Taddeo-Goldstein both being from the same county, Crist’s choice may carry more weight with voters due to a combination of factors, not least of which being that Crist's Tampa Bay and Taddeo-Goldstein's South Florida are historical economic and political rivals. By comparison, Gov. Scott’s geopolitical roots of Naples is regarded by many as merely a conservative extension of the South Florida metropolis.