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Image: Charlie Crist
Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., attends the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense hearing titled "FY2023 Department of Defense," in Rayburn Building on May 11, 2022.Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call via AP file

Crist stripped of personal pen, fan before Fried debate faceoff

Personal fan and Sharpie pen were not allowed in Thursday's Democratic gubernatorial debate in Florida.


Before the Florida Democratic gubernatorial primary debate even started Thursday, Rep. Charlie Crist already lost ... his pen and personal fan, that is.

Crist is known in Florida political circles for having a small personal podium fan — most notably remembered for causing a debate flap with then-Gov. Rick Scott in 2014. And he attempted to have his own fan brought into Thursday's Telemundo 51 /NBC 6 Miami debate, which was pre-taped and will air in the state Thursday evening.

But organizers didn't allow it. The station's management had already agreed to install personal fans and Crist was forced to rely on that. But the noise generated was so loud that there was a special wind screen for the microphone.

Crist’s opponent, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, had no such problems. The studio was cold enough for her without any extra air, according to her campaign.

After fangate came pengate.

Before the debate's recording, Fried adviser Kevin Cate spied Crist using a blue Sharpie marker pen — the same kind that Crist used to sign bills and veto legislation when he was governor from 2007-2011.

“That’s the veto pen! That’s a prop!” Cate said, according to witnesses.

Cate, who advised Crist’s unsuccessful 2014 race against Scott and his winning 2016 congressional campaign, successfully argued that Crist liked to brandish the Sharpie on stage to talk about how he knows how to yield a veto pen.

The pen was ruled a prop, and Crist had his pen temporarily confiscated by station management for the debate.

As news of the pre-debate jostling broke out on Twitter, Crist’s 2016 opponent, Rep. David Jolly, shared his own Crist memory, which he was obviously a fan of.

“True story,” Jolly wrote. “Crist asked for a fan at our CD13 debate in 2016, so I just asked for one also. It was pretty awesome actually. His real skill was in keeping his suit from flapping in the wind. That takes solid experience. I fought it the whole time.”