Charlie Crist’s fan was loyal. It stood by him through thick and thin.
When Crist was a young Florida Republican rising star, the fan was there. When Crist became governor, the fan came with him. When Crist was cast out of politics and his party—when he became an independent and then a Democrat—when he lost his allies, his friends, his donors, his career—when he embarked on his comeback, determined to show the voters he was a new man but also, deep down, just the same: The fan was there.
In 2006, when Crist was state attorney general, competing in a tough Republican gubernatorial primary, the fan accompanied him onstage for a debate. It was August in Poinciana, a swampy Central Florida town south of Orlando, and the air was thick with moisture. His opponent, Tom Gallagher, looked at Crist’s fan and said to the moderator, “That’s not fair. Get another fan in here or I’m walking out.” The debate was delayed several minutes until a second fan could be found.
Gallagher was rattled. Maybe it was the fan. Crist won the election.
When Governor Crist prepared to hold a press conference, his staff got there first to set up the fan. When he went to Europe on a trade mission, he spent $320 on portable electric fans. When he came to a television station for an interview, he brought the fan, stationing it just below the camera on its little built-in stand, pointed upward toward his body. It didn’t matter if it threatened to drown out what he was saying—the fan stayed. “That background noise is a fan the governor apparently travels with,” an anchor for West Palm Beach’s WPEC explained on-air after a 2010 interview with the governor. “He travels with his fan to make sure he doesn’t get sweaty."