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Charlie Crist "strongly considering" another run for Florida governor

Rep. Charlie Crist's hat sits teetering at the edge of the 2022 ring.

The state of play: The St. Petersburg Democrat told Axios he is "seriously considering running for governor" while on a tour of local businesses on Monday.

  • That's a bit firmer than his response to the question just a month ago: "My mind is open to it."
  • Crist visited a hair salon, a deli and a food truck to make sure they can secure small business loans as part of the stimulus package — and to casually mention he is thinking of running for governor.

The big picture: The race against Gov. Ron DeSantis will be decided 15 years after Crist was elected as a Republican governor — and a decade since he switched parties. He went from "Chain Gang Charlie" to saying "God bless Joe Biden."

  • This sets up 2022 to have two major Tampa Bay contenders for governor. David Jolly is considering running as an independent.
  • Other possible Democratic contenders from across the state are former Rep. Gwen Graham, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and Reps. Val Demings and Stephanie Murphy.

Crist took a jab at DeSantis' vaccine rollout while sitting in a salon chair at Tabatha Exquisite Touch on Central Avenue:

"We're in a crisis. Some people don't know it. They may live in places where they don't get to see it. ... Places like Lakewood Ranch or Ocean Reef, where the governor likes to go to hand out the vaccine. He doesn't come to South St. Pete."

Worth noting: Criticizing DeSantis may not be enough for Crist as some other Democrats are already doubting him.

  • A Florida Democratic National Committee member told told Politico he doesn't think Crist is exciting enough to beat DeSantis. And attorney John Morgan called him a "cold fish."

This story first appeared in the Axios Tampa Bay newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

China makes history with successful Mars landing

A Chinese lander carrying a rover successfully touched down on Mars for the first time, state media reports.

Why it matters: This is the first time China has landed a spacecraft on another planet, and it launches the nation into an elite club of only a few space agencies to successfully make it to the Martian surface.

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UN: 10,000 Palestinians flee homes in Gaza as Israel-Hamas fighting escalates

The United Nations warned Friday that ongoing fighting between Israel and Hamas "has the potential to unleash an uncontainable security and humanitarian crisis," in not only the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel, but "the region as a whole."

The big picture: More than 125 Palestinians, including 31 children have been killed in Gaza since fighting began Monday, per the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Seven people, including one child, have been killed in Israel, according to Israeli authorities.

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Bernie Sanders: The U.S. must recognize that "Palestinian rights matter"

The United States must encourage an immediate cease-fire in the Middle East and adopt an "evenhanded approach" that recognizes Palestinians and Israelis have a right to "live in peace and security," Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) wrote in a New York Times opinion on Friday.

Driving the news: Violence escalated this week after Israelis intensified efforts to evict Palestinians from their homes in Jerusalem. Hamas fired rockets and Israel massed troops, leaving more than 125 Palestinians and seven people in Israel dead.

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Uber launches new anti-racism efforts, hires new inclusive design lead

Eager to show progress on the pledge to make its platform and business anti-racist, Uber on Friday announced new anti-racism driver and rider campaigns, as well as fresh internal hiring practices, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Uber is one of the biggest ride hailing companies in the world. Its decisions impact the millions that use the platform, where drivers and riders alike say they have experienced racism.

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Ex-Gaetz associate admits to sex trafficking, agrees to cooperate with federal prosecutors

Joel Greenberg, a former associate of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), agreed to cooperate with federal investigators and admitted to a variety of federal charges including sex trafficking a minor, New York Times reported Friday citing court papers.

Why it matters: Investigators believe Greenberg introduced women to Gaetz for paid sex and are looking into the Florida congressman's alleged sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl. Greenberg could be a key witness as federal prosecutors decide whether to charge Gaetz.

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White House: User fees for infrastructure deal would "violate" Biden's tax pledge

The White House on Friday said that Republicans' idea to impose user fees for infrastructure spending would "violate" President Biden's promise not to raise taxes on Americans making less than $400,000 annually.

What they're saying: "The president's pledge and his commitment, his line in the sand, his red line, whatever you want to call it, is that he will not raise taxes for people making less than $400,000 a year," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. "User fees that have been proposed out there would violate that."

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City of Columbus, Andre Hill's family agree to $10M settlement over the fatal police shooting

Columbus, Ohio, on Friday reached a $10 million settlement with the family of Andre Hill, an unarmed Black man who was fatally shot by police as he walked out of a garage while holding a cellphone.

What they're saying: "We understand that because of this former officer's actions, the Hill family will never be whole," City Attorney Zach Klein said in a statement. "No amount of money will ever bring Andre Hill back to his family, but we believe this is an important and necessary step in the right direction."

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"Mass Effect": Gaming's biggest space opera returns

The iconic spacefaring adventure "Mass Effect" is back today with "Mass Effect: Legendary Edition," a single, remastered version of all three games.

Why it matters: There is no series like "Mass Effect" — even when it comes to BioWare's other choice-driven RPGs like "Dragon Age." "Mass Effect" is a big ol' space adventure first and foremost, but it’s also about loyalty, love, and tough calls.

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