Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat to run in a district the Florida Supreme Court ordered redrawn
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (CFP) — He’s ba-ack.
After losing two statewide races in two years, running under three different party labels, former Florida Governor Charlie Crist says he will seek a U.S. House seat if Florida legislators redraw the district lines to include his St. Petersburg home.
“If the new congressional map includes my home, I intend on running to serve the people again,” Crist said in a July 20 Twitter post.
Crist’s tweet came after the Republican incumbent in the 13th District, U.S. Rep. David Jolly, announced he would forgo re-election in 2016 and seek the state’s open U.S. Senate seat instead.
On July 9, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the Republican-controlled state legislature unconstitutionally gerrymandered the U.S. House map to help the GOP’s electoral prospects. The high court ordered the state legislature to redraw eight districts, including the 13th, a change which is likely to make it more Democratic.
The Supreme Court objected to the legislature’s decision to shift African-American voters in St. Petersburg into the neighboring 14th District, across the bay in Tampa, to make the 13th more Republican-friendly, which justices said violated a requirement that districts be geographically compact wherever possible.
Crist lives in the part of the 14th District that is now in Pinellas County. However, even if legislators don’t move his house into the 13th District, he could still run for the seat because there is no requirement that House members actually live in the district they represent.
Crist, 58, was elected governor in 2006 as a Republican. In 2010, he opted to seek a Senate seat, rather than run for re-election. After it was clear he would lose to U.S.Senator Marco Rubio in the primary, Crist bolted the GOP and ran unsuccessfully as an independent.
He became a Democrat in 2012 and won the party’s nomination for governor in 2014. He was narrowly defeated by incumbent Republican Governor Rick Scott.