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Charlie Crist launches run for Florida congressional seat

Crist’s latest race comes after two statewide losses and two party switches

♦By Rich Shumate, editor

florida mugST. PERTERSBURG, Florida (CFP) — After losing two statewide elections in four years and changing parties twice, former Florida Governor Charlie Crist will try to resurrect his political career with a run for Congress in 2016.

Former Florida Governor Charlie Crist

Former Florida Governor Charlie Crist

Crist announced October 20 that he will seek the Democratic nomination in Florida’s 13th U.S. House District.

“Public service is in my heart. I can’t help it. I guess that’s fairly obvious,” Crist said at his campaign kickoff. “But somebody has to step up, and somebody has to lead.”

His decision immediate drew fire from Republicans, who noted that Crist had said back in March that he would not run for office in 2016.

“What happens when the King of Flip-Flopping promises NOT to run for office in 2016… he runs for office in 2016,” said a statement on the Florida GOP’s website.

The 13th District seat opened up after the incumbent, Republican U.S. Rep. David Jolly, decided to run for the U.S. Senate. Jolly’s decision came as the Florida Supreme Court is poised to redraw the state’s House districts, which is likely to make the 13th District, centered in the St. Petersburg area, more Democratic.

Crist, 59, was elected as governor in 2006 as a Republican. In 2010, instead of running for re-election, he decided to run for the U.S. Senate, bolting the GOP to run as an independent when it became clear he was going to lose the primary to the eventual winner, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio.

After losing that race, Crist became a Democrat and made an unsuccessful run for governor in 2014, losing to Republican Governor Rick Scott.

Crist will face at least one Democratic primary challenger, Eric Lynn, a former Pentagon official. After Crist’s announcement, he issued a statement pointedly noting that, unlike Crist, he was a “life-long Democrat.”

“I’m looking forward to a spirited primary and a spirited debate on important Democratic issues,” Lynn said.

Republicans are also expected to put up a fight to keep the seat, with former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker being mentioned as a possible GOP candidate.

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