Alex Sargent

Sophomore, Political Science and Public Relations Double Major

Photography by Caroline Nickerson

GAINESVILLE—For former Gov. Charlie Crist, the road back to Tallahassee ran through Gainesville Wednesday afternoon, when Crist spoke to a room of around 125 supporters at the University of Florida’s Bob Graham Center.

Crist, however, had to deal with some speed bumps before the rally began. The event, which was supposed to begin at 2 p.m., was delayed by over an hour when Crist’s flight into Gainesville Regional Airport was delayed.

During the wait, local musician Mama Trish sang as UF College Democrats roamed the audience encouraging people to vote early and volunteer for the Crist campaign.

The audience was clearly restless during the delay, and many people who attended left before Crist arrived.

“It’s very disappointing, because I waited for like an hour,” said Angela Cleri, a freshman engineering major who had to leave the event in order to make it to an afternoon class on time. “But I’ll still vote for him.”

Even after Crist arrived, the audience was relatively quiet, but became energized when Crist talked about his legislative priorities, which include increasing funding for education, raising the minimum wage and expanding Medicaid.

Crist also used his remarks to encourage students to take advantage of the early voting opportunities available to them, and to take their friends to the polls as well.

“Here’s the truth: When we vote, we win,” Crist said.

Cynthia Chestnut, chairwoman of the Alachua County Democratic Executive Committee, said that even though the election is almost a week away, students can affect the results now.

“We encourage people to vote early, and to take 10 of their friends to the polls,” she said.

The rally also highlighted local Democratic candidates, including Jon Uman, who is running against state Rep. Keith Perry, Ken Cornell, who is running for Alachua County Commissioner, and John Power, the Democratic candidate for Alachua County tax collector.

Austin Young, a freshman political science major, said that even though he has already voted, he chose to attend the event after he received an email from the UF College Democrats, and decided that he wanted to see Crist speak in person.

When asked what the most important election issue mentioned at the rally was, Young said, “It has to be either ending standardized tests in Florida, or the environment, because Rick Scott has done nothing to make Florida a cleaner, more beautiful place to visit and live.”

With the election just six days away, the race between Crist and current Gov. Rick Scott is rxtremely close, with Scott taking a 1 percent lead in the most recent poll from the New York Times and CBS News.

According to the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections website, early voting will continue until 6 p.m. Saturday evening. Polling places will re-open on Election Day Tuesday, and will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.