Crist Picks Annette Taddeo as Running Mate, Citing Her Working Mom Credentials
FlaglerLive | July 18, 2014
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist on Thursday named Miami-Dade County party leader Annette Taddeo as his running mate, a move that could help Crist in voter-rich South Florida while appealing to women and Hispanics.
The announcement was somewhat unorthodox because Crist still needs to defeat former state Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich in the Aug. 26 Democratic primary. But Crist has repeatedly said he is focused on the general election against Republican Gov. Rick Scott.
Crist touted Taddeo as a working mother who runs a small business in Miami. Taddeo, 47, who was born on a U.S. military base in Colombia, also has served as chairwoman of the Miami-Dade County Democratic Party.
“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,” Crist said in a prepared statement.
But Rich, who has trailed in polls and raised relatively little money, took a shot at Crist, who served as a Republican governor before later becoming a Democrat.
“Because he’s been a lifelong Republican, Charlie Crist might be excused for not knowing that Democrats typically don’t choose a running mate until they win the nomination,” Rich said.
Taddeo ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2008, losing to U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. She has had an elevated profile in state party politics since Democratic Chairwoman Allison Tant tapped her to serve as one of four vice-chairs last year.
At the Democrats’ annual fundraiser in Hollywood last month, Taddeo suggested that the party’s black and Hispanic caucuses needed to band together to be more effective. While black voters have traditionally been part of the Democratic base, Hispanics are a bloc that is growing in importance.
“Black issues are Hispanic issues. We’re both minorities. And both of us together, united, we will go so much further than divided,” Taddeo told The News Service of Florida at the June 28 fundraiser.
Taddeo also indicated she recognized the importance of Florida on the national stage, especially as Democrats look at winning the governor’s mansion as a way to keep Florida blue in the 2016 presidential election.
“Florida is starting to look like the rest of America’s going to look in a very short period of time. So I think we can be an example for the rest of the nation of how important it is for all of us to unite,” she said.
Like Crist, Scott picked a Hispanic from Miami-Dade County — Carlos Lopez-Cantera — when filling the lieutenant governor’s job early this year. Lopez-Cantera was the county’s elected property appraiser after serving eight years in the Florida House.
Greg Blair, a spokesman for Scott’s campaign, focused on Crist when asked Thursday for a response to the Taddeo announcement.
“As a lifelong Democrat herself, maybe Annette Taddeo-Goldstein can help Charlie stop the personal attacks and help him keep track of his ever-changing positions on every issue,” Blair said. Taddeo is sometimes referred to as Taddeo-Goldstein, reflecting her marriage to clinical psychologist Eric Goldstein.
Susan MacManus, a political-science professor at the University of South Florida who studies state politics, said both parties think they have a shot at the Hispanic vote, and the lieutenant-governor candidates are one way to appeal to Hispanics. But MacManus also said Crist’s choice of a woman was “shrewd” as women make up a larger share of the Democratic Party than they do the Republican Party.
“(There) is a tendency, particularly of younger women, to fall off in their participation in mid-term elections,” MacManus said. “But having a woman on the ticket as number two was one of the ways that Crist is distinguishing himself from the Republican ticket. So he’s trying to take advantage of the gender makeup of Florida and particularly of the Democratic Party, because he’s got to get turnout close to what it was during the (2012) presidential election, and that’s always difficult in a midterm.”
Taddeo, who has an 8-year-old daughter and whose husband has two children from a previous marriage, founded a company called LanguageSpeak in 1995. The company provides translation services.
While at the Democratic Party fundraiser last month, Taddeo made said she has “great respect” for Rich, Crist’s Democratic primary opponent. But Taddeo also pointed to palpable enthusiasm for Crist among Democrats.
“Everybody wants a picture with him. When he walks into a room, everybody’s excited. And the excitement is very big,” she said.
–News Service of Florida