Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor of Florida, is now officially a Democrat, he announced on Twitter late Friday, after filing official paperwork at a White House Christmas party that reportedly was met with a fist bump by President Obama.
It's likely a first step toward another gubernatorial run for Crist, who served as governor from 2007-2011 and, after losing the 2010 GOP Senate primary against now-Sen. Marco Rubio, became an independent and ran against Rubio in the general election that fall. Crist came in second to Rubio with 30 percent of the vote.
In August of this year, Crist
"What changed is the leadership of the Republican Party," Crist told the Tampa Bay Times in a phone interview Friday night. "As I said at the convention, I didn't leave the Republican Party, it left me. Whether the issue was immigration, or education, or - you name it - the environment. I feel at home now."
The switch has been a long time coming, Crist said, recalling friends who "for years tell me, 'You know Charlie, you're a Democrat and you don't know it.'" His record mostly backs that up: Despite fighting taxes and gun control laws, as governor Crist supported higher pay for teachers, was an advocate for civil rights, and voted primarily in favor of abortion rights.
Still, critics scoff at what they call his chameleon quality. A recent press release from the Florida state GOP stated: "Charlie Crist has the ability to meld into any character - from 'Chain Gang Charlie' to sympathetic 'Man of the People' - there is seemingly no role that he can't play."
If Crist does decide to mount a run against the current governor of the Sunshine State in 2014, Republican Rick Scott, the Times predicted it won't be an easy battle for the Democratic nomination. Alex Sink, the 2010 Democratic nominee, said in an interview that will air Sunday evening that Crist will not play a role in her decision to run. "And if I run," she added, "I'm in it to win, no matter who the other comers are."