Charlie Crist’s message to Democrats: I’m just like Barack Obama

“I think the off-year elections are different from the presidential elections, but I think what the governor has done is he has brought together a dream team of talent to figure out how to put together a coalition to win the governor’s race,” said Crist spokesman Kevin Cate, also a former Obama campaign aide.

Crist has gone to great lengths to quickly earn his stripes as a Democrat. The crush of Obama aides rallying to his side may, to an extent, be a recognition of the groundwork he laid in advance. It also appears to be a sign that Crist believes the Obama approach to Florida can work, even in a non-presidential year.

“In 2012 no state got more time, attention, money and organizational focus than Florida,” said Margolis. “Obviously that pays dividends for us now.”

The flow of Obama talent also reflects the high stakes of the purple state contest: This is the governor’s race to get involved in this year.