Charlie Crist, the state’s former Republican governor turned Democratic congressman, is expected to announce next week that he’s making a second run for governor as a Democrat.
Crist said in a recent television interview that he is considering running for governor and tweeted Saturday that he will make a “major announcement” on May 4 in his home town of St. Petersburg.
Crist won the governor’s mansion as a Republican in 2006 after many years in GOP politics. He decided not to seek a second term, instead running in 2010 for a U.S. Senate seat, which he lost to Sen. Marco Rubio.
In 2014 Crist tried to mount a comeback as a Democrat, losing the governor’s race to former Gov. Rick Scott, who is now a U.S. senator.
Crist won a U.S. House seat in 2016 and has twice been reelected, but his Tampa Bay area district could be significantly redrawn during the upcoming redistricting effort.
While Crist may be the first to announce, there is expected to be a crowded Democratic primary field in the governor’s race this year. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is a likely candidate, and U.S. Rep. Val Demings also is contemplating running.
Crist, 64, was considered a moderate Republican during his time as governor, promoting green energy and making it easier for felons to get their voting rights restored. That image hurt him in the GOP primary against Rubio.
Crist has continued to promote a centrist image as a Democrat, joining the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of centrist Democrats in Congress. He was an early supporter of President Joe Biden during the 2020 Democratic presidential primary.
Known for his retail campaign skills and strong fundraising, Crist won three statewide races in a row as a Republican, serving as education commissioner, attorney general and then governor. He lost his last two statewide races, though, and has never experienced a highly competitive Democratic primary.
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