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, 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.