It’s official: Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor of Florida, crossed party lines on Friday and registered himself as a Democrat.
The evolution of Crist’s shifting political identity culminated at the White House during a Christmas reception where he signed his new Florida voter registration, changing his party affiliation from Independent to Democrat.
“Proud and honored to join the Democratic Party in the home of President Barack Obama,” Crist tweeted from the White House, along with a photo of Crist standing next to his wife Carol as he shows off his new registration.
The president greeted the news with a fist bump for Crist, The Tampa Bay Times reports.
“I’ve had friends for years tell me, ‘You know Charlie, you’re a Democrat and you don’t know it,’ ” Crist told the Times after the party.
Crist’s switch comes as no surprise. In August, the former Florida governor endorsed President Obama just one week before Republicans hosted their convention in Tampa. Crist’s move landed him a speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention, where he criticized the GOP for extreme conservative standards that not even Ronald Reagan would be able to meet. “I didn’t leave the Republican Party; it left me,” he said in his speech.
Far-right conservatives labeled Crist as a RINO (“Republican in name only”) in 2010 when he ran a failed U.S. Senate campaign against Tea Party poster-child Marco Rubio. Crist has since moved further to the center, but until Friday has been hesitant to commit to the Democratic Party.
The party change sparks further speculation that Crist has his sights on reclaiming his old job leading Florida, challenging the incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott in 2014.
— Charlie Crist (@charliecristfl) December 8, 2012