Gubernatorial Race 2014
6:30 am
Mon December 10, 2012

Charlie Crist's Measured Journey From Republican Via Independent To Democrat

It's official, folks. Former Republican Florida Governor Charlie Crist is now a Democrat.

THE HUG: Crist embraced President Obama and began his two-year party transition.

He let us all in on the news via Twitter this weekend.

His Twitter message read: "Proud and honored to join the Democratic Party in the home of President @BarackObama!"

For many of us, this isn't a complete surprise.

Crist first left the GOP in 2010 during a tough fight for a U.S. Senate seat against Sen. Marco Rubio. Rubio had the support of right flank of the party, while the considerably more moderate Crist was losing ground in the polls.

Crist earned much of the GOP's ire when he attended an event with President Obama and supported his economic stimulus plans. Photos from that event of Crist hugging the president lost him a large swath of the Republican Party and eventually catapulted Rubio into his current seat.

Crist became an independent mostly because he knew winning back the increasingly conservative GOP was not in the cards.

Since then, Crist has continued to support the president. He even spoke at this year's Democratic National Convention and has defended voting rights in Florida, along with mostly Democratic-leaning groups.

So, it comes with little surprise that Crist has become a full-on Democrat.

There has been speculation that Crist would switch parties in order to run for governor in 2014 against Gov. Rick Scott, whose approval ratings have been pretty bad.

However, as the Associated Press reports, this doesn't mean Crist is a sure-thing for the Democratic nomination.

According to the AP,

It is unlikely that Mr. Crist would get a clear path to the Democratic nomination. Nan Rich, a former state senator, has already jumped into the Democratic race, and Alex Sink, the state’s former chief financial officer, could run as well. Ms. Sink barely lost the 2010 governor’s race to Mr. Scott.

Some Democrats are wary of Mr. Crist. The Florida Democratic Party chairman, Rod Smith, has joked that just because someone joins the congregation, “you don’t make them the preacher.”

Steve Schale, a Democratic political consultant who worked on Mr. Obama’s Florida campaign, called Mr. Crist a “viable Democrat.”

“He earned his stripes when he supported the president,” Mr. Schale said.

However, Crist's name recognition and past ability to raise money could put him out in front of almost any other Democrat looking to oust Scott. So, in other words, we'll see how this pans out.

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