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Monday, May 22, 2006                                                                                       View Comments

Jesus has revealed the next Florida governor

MIAMI --A reverend who introduced Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist during a breakfast with other pastors Monday said the Lord came to him in a dream two years ago and told him Crist would be the state's next governor.

The Rev. O'Neal Dozier said that before the dream he did not know Crist, nor had Crist made known his plans to run for governor.

"The Lord Jesus spoke to me and he said 'There's something I want you to know,'" said Dozier, pastor of the Worldwide Christian Center in Pompano Beach. "'Charlie Crist will be the next governor of the state of Florida.'"

Since then, Dozier has spent time with Crist and talked with him at length about policy. He told the group that Crist would be uncompromising in his Christian faith.

"I introduce to you, as the Lord Jesus has said, the next governor of the state of Florida, Charlie Crist," Dozier said.

Crist's first words were, "Well, as they say, the praise doesn't get any higher."

Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who is opposing Crist in the primary, wouldn't comment on the remarks after the event.

Afterward, Dozier said he met Crist two months after the dream at a conference of Republican leaders from around the South. He told Crist about the dream, and Crist replied that he would run.

"It's the most amazing thing anyone's every told me," Crist said. "It's beyond overwhelming, but the reverend has a very strong faith in his heart and he's a good man. I'm very grateful for his help and his support and his belief."

Gov. Jeb Bush, who appointed Dozier to a group that nominates judges in South Florida, didn't directly respond to the remark, but praised Dozier.

"Far be it from me to judge about people's faiths and what occurs because of it," Bush said. "He is very sincere. Rev. Dozier's a good man."

All four gubernatorial candidates were invited to the pastor appreciation breakfast organized by the Christian Family Coalition. Crist and Gallagher spoke to the group, both giving an anti-abortion message and discussing their proposals to increase adoptions.

Democrats running for the seat Bush is leaving due to term limits -- state Sen. Rod Smith and U.S. Rep. Jim Davis -- did not attend, though Smith's son-in-law, the Rev. Graham Glover, spoke on his behalf.

Crist spoke at length about a bill he has pushed for the last two years that would force judges to lock up sex offenders who violate probation. It has not passed. Crist said if there were already such a law, young murder victims like Jessica Lunsford, Carlie Brucia and Sarah Lunde might still be alive.

Gallagher told the group that there is a place for values and beliefs in government, saying he would work toward increasing faith-based partners.

"There are people who don't think that we ought to say 'under God' in our pledge. They think that's some kind of radical thing," he said. "These are values that are Florida values that the people in this state want as a whole and they don't want fringe groups trying to take those things away. The same thing goes for silent prayer."

Smith's son-in-law acknowledged that Democrats haven't always been seen as strong advocates of faith, but said Smith is unquestionably a religious man.

"It is sad when we're told that our faith can't be brought to the table, that our values can't be front and center," said Glover, a Lutheran. "(Smith) is a man who loves his lord, he is a man who loves his family. As a Southern Baptist, he can probably quote scripture a whole lot better than I can."

Anthony Verdugo, executive director of the coalition, told the group he was disappointed Davis didn't attend the event, adding that he didn't even respond to the invitation.

"We tried and tried and tried to get Congressman Jim Davis to speak here," he said. "We believe we have a voice in both parties because our values are transcended values that don't belong to one party or another."