Former Florida Governor Charlie Crist tweeted Friday night that he will be joining the Democratic Party. Crist served as a Republican, and lost as an independent candidate in the 2010 Florida U.S. Senate election won by his GOP primary rival Marco Rubio.
The move heightens speculation that Crist may challenge current Republican Governor Rick Scott in 2014 for his old job back. Crist supported Democrat Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election, and embraced the president’s policy on the stimulus during his first term. Crist signed the paperwork changing parties at the White House Christmas reception Friday.
“I’ve had friends for years tell me, ‘You know Charlie, you’re a Democrat and you don’t know it,’ ” Crist told The Tampa Bay Times. Despite often advocating right-leaning policies on taxes and gun control, Crist has been a strong supporter of raising pay for teachers and a voting record in the Legislature mostly in favor of abortion. Crist told the Times that he was incited to leave the GOP because of party leadership and his postions on immigration, education and the environment.
During a speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, Crist said that “half a century ago, Ronald Reagan, the man whose relentless optimism inspired me to enter politics, famously said that he didn’t leave the Democratic Party; the party left him.
“I can certainly relate.”