Rep. Charlie Crist prepares $20 million ad campaign in Florida governor race

Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.) is preparing to drop $20 million in the coming months on a statewide advertising blitz as he looks to oust Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) this fall.

The media spending, shared first with The Hill, is slated to start in mid-September and run through the week of the November general election. 

The campaign is spending the biggest chunk of money — nearly $5.2 million — in the Tampa media market, Crist’s home turf. That buy also includes a nearly $5 million investment in the Miami market and more than $4.8 million in Orlando. The spending in those three markets will include more than $2.2 million in Spanish-language ad buys. 

But Crist is also set to spend heavily in North Florida — about $2.16 million, according to his campaign. That includes nearly $918,000 in the Jacksonville market and just shy of $572,000 in the Pensacola market. 

Crist’s ad spending plans are massive, even by the Sunshine State’s already-expensive standards. For context, Crist has raised about $14 million for his gubernatorial bid since jumping into the race more than a year ago. 

Of course, Crist is still facing a primary challenge from state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, though polling in the race suggests that the three-term congressman and former Republican governor is the heavy favorite heading into the Aug. 23 nominating contest.

And if he clinches the Democratic nomination later this month, he’s going to have to compete financially with DeSantis, a beloved figure on the right and potential 2024 presidential hopeful who has pulled in more than $100 million so far for his reelection bid.

“Ron DeSantis has taken every opportunity to put his presidential ambitions ahead of the needs of our state. This fall, our campaign is going to make sure Floridians know it, and how it’s negatively impacting their daily lives,” Austin Durrer, Crist’s campaign manager, said.