Charlie Crist campaign manager departs with less than three weeks until election

"Austin Durrer has departed the campaign to focus on a family matter."

Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist's campaign manager has departed with less than three weeks until the election.

"Austin Durrer has departed the campaign to focus on a family matter," Crist spokeswoman Samantha Ramirez said, according to Florida Politics. The campaign insists Durrer's leaving is not the product of Crist's sagging poll numbers. Sydney Throop will take over the role. Throop previously ran Crist's congressional campaigns.

A former Florida Republican governor, Crist announced he would run for Senate as an independent following his failure to win the GOP primary contest against Marco Rubio in 2010. He subsequently won election to the House of Representatives as a Democrat and now seeks to topple Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and reclaim his old job.

That bid, however, has faced dim prospects, with DeSantis surging in the polls to command a 7.8% lead in the RealClearPolitics polling average. 

Hurricane Ian's impact has allowed DeSantis to present himself as a competent crisis manager, independent of partisan politics. The governor appeared with President Joe Biden earlier this month to tout national unity in the face of the disaster.

One pollster highlighted that the storm also had the effect of limiting Crist's avenues of attack against his Republican opponent.

"The disadvantage Crist has is two-fold: he's completely out of the news and he never managed a hurricane so he can't stand up and point to what he did. So Crist is totally, totally defanged," said Brad Coker of Mason-Dixon polling.