Crist jumps into Florida governor's race as a Democrat

Florida's former Republican governor, Charlie Crist, officially announced his bid to seek re-election to that office - but this time as a Democrat.

Crist, who served as Republican governor of the state from 2007 to 2011, has made a gradual transition across the spectrum. He ran for Senate in 2010 as an independent after polls showed him falling behind in the polls to now-Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who was then the former Florida House speaker. Rubio beat Crist for the seat, seemingly putting a halt to Crist's career.

But he revived it with a decision to join the Democratic Party shortly after the 2012 election. That came after he backed President Obama during the election. On Saturday, he filed his paperwork to enter the race.

Crist's announcement was filled with criticism for Rick Scott, the sitting Republican governor who he will face in the 2014 election. "Rick Scott cut education spending by billions, and made it harder for middle class families to send their kids to college. He said no to high-speed rail, increased pollution in the Everglades, and even signed a law that made it harder to vote," Crist said at the announcement in his hometown of St. Petersburg.

"You deserve a governor who wakes up every day thinking about you, who you can trust to govern honestly in our collective best interest," Crist said.

He'll face State Sen. Nan Rich in next August's Democratic primary. "I would not be in it if I didn't feel I had a real shot," she told WTSP, the CBS affiliate in Tampa. Rich promptly challenged Crist to a series of televised debates.

One advantage Crist will have besides his statewide name recognition: the help of several former staffers on Mr. Obama's campaigns. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Jim Margolis will serve as new media consultant and John Anzalone as pollster, both veterans of Mr. Obama's campaign team. Crist's senior adviser is Steve Schale, who ran Obama's 2008 Florida campaign. Former Florida Democratic Party Chairman Bob Poe will chair his political committee, Charlie Crist for Florida.

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for