Crist makes another run for state’s top office after statewide losses in 2010 and 2014
♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor
ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (CFP) — He’s run for 10 times for six different offices over the past three decades and has been, at various times, a Republican, an independent and a Democrat. And now Charlie Crist is giving up his relatively safe seat in Congress to once again seek the state’s top office as a Democrat that he once held as a Republican.
“This won’t be an easy fight, but nothing in life worth fighting for is easy,” Crist told supporters at a kickoff rally in his hometown of St. Petersburg. “I’m running so you will be in charge again, so you will have a governor who will work for the people with a steady hand and an open heart.”
Crist opened the campaign with a broadside against DeSantis, whom, he said, “doesn’t listen, who doesn’t care and who doesn’t think about you — unless, of course, you write him a campaign check.”
Watch video of Crist’s campaign kickoff rally at end of story
While Crist is the biggest Democratic name to enter the race so far, he may have to battle to get his party’s nomination. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried — the only Democrat now holding statewide office in the Sunshine State — is expected to run, and U.S. Rep. Val Demings from Orlando is also seriously considering the race.
Crist’s decision also has implications for the Democrats’ narrow House majority, as he represents a swing House district in Pinellas County that Republicans held for more than 30 years before he flipped it in 2016.
The Republican he beat in 2020 by 6 points, Anna Paulina Luna, has already announced a 2022 run.
Should he become the Democratic nominee, Crist would face a formidable foe in DeSantis, who has been building a national political profile to possibly seek the White House in 2024. A Democrat hasn’t won the governorship in Florida since 1994.
Crist’s new political quest is the latest chapter in a complicated political career that has seen him seek six different offices over the last 30 years. His new run for governor will be his 11th campaign overall and seventh statewide.
Crist reached the top in Republican politics in 2006, when he was elected governor as a conservative. But then he then decided to forgo re-election in 2010 to make what turned out to be an ill-considered run for the U.S. Senate. Poised to lose the Republican primary to now U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, Crist bolted the GOP to run unsuccessfully as an independent.
By 2014, he had changed parties again to become a Democrat and narrowly lost the governor’s race to Rick Scott, who now holds the state’s other Senate seat.
Crist, 64, revived his political career in 2016 with his successful run for the House as a Democrat, a seat which he is now giving up after just six years to once again seek higher office.
This will be Crist’s third run for governor. He’s also run unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate twice, in 1998 and 2010, and was also elected as state education commissioner and attorney general before winning the governorship.
He has gone 3-and-3 in his previous statewide races.