Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist wants his old job back. This time, he’s running as Democrat.
Crist filed paperwork on Friday, and plans to make the official announcement Monday in St. Petersburg, Florida.
The Republican-turned-Democrat is considered a front-runner for the Democratic ticket. He would likely be up against current Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican. Scott represents a far more conservative version of the GOP than Crist ever did.
Crist is clearly hoping to benefit from widespread anger about the government shutdown, the majority of which has focused on Republicans. Earlier in the week, Crist appeared in a newly posted YouTube video directed at Florida voters, urging them to “end this nonsense and get us back to common sense” ways of governing.
"I'm an optimist but let's face it, the last few years have been tough: government on the fringes, donors in politics above you the people,” said Crist in the video. “You've seen the attacks against full-time working people and their health care; against women and their doctors; against teachers, public schools and college affordability; And even against the simple act of casting your vote. It’s not working.”
Most polls show Crist ahead of Scott in a head-to-head match-up. Crist leads Scott, 44% to 40%, in a recent University of North Florida poll. A Public Policy Poll suggests a much bigger gap, with Crist topping Scott by 12 points, 50% to 38%.
Scott appears to be gearing up for battle against Crist. He recently told National Review, “I will have $25 million in the bank by the end of the year and will use it in early 2014 to define my opponent.”
Crist’s latest run for office could breathe fresh life back into his political career. Once considered a rising star within the GOP, the then-governor opted to take a shot running for a United States Senate seat in 2009 instead of going for a second term. After trailing in the Republican primary polls, he made the decision to run as an Independent. He lost the election to Marco Rubio, a Tea Party favorite.
Crist's party-switch is not surprising: he was a speaker at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, showcased as a moderate Republican--from a key state--who was endorsing President Obama instead of Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
As a Democrat, Crist will be in a primary against former state Sen. Nan Rich of Broward County. She calls herself the true Democrat in the race. But her profile--and fundraiser ability--aren't in Crist's league, and she's unlikely to present much of a challenge.