Crist — Florida’s former Republican governor who relished the tough-on-crime nickname “Chain Gang Charlie” and used to describe himself variously as a “Ronald Reagan Republican” and a “Jeb Bush Republican” — on Friday evening signed papers changing his party from independent to Democrat.
He did so during a Christmas reception at the White House, where President Barack Obama greeted the news with a fist bump for the man who had a higher profile campaigning for Obama’s reelection this year than any Florida Democrat.
The widely expected move positions Crist, 56, for another highly anticipated next step: announcing his candidacy for governor, taking on Republican incumbent Gov. Rick Scott and an untold number of Democrats who would challenge him for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
“I’ve had friends for years tell me, ‘You know Charlie, you’re a Democrat and you don’t know it,’ ” Crist, a career-long populist, recounted Friday night from Washington, D.C.
Crist has been registered with no party affiliation since the spring of 2010, when his Republican candidacy for U.S. Senate was fizzling against Republican upstart Marco Rubio. Since losing that race, he has been steadily inching toward the Democratic party, first when his wife Carole switched her affiliation to Democrat and later when he threw himself into Obama’s reelection campaign, earning a prominent speaking slot during the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
Critics from both parties sniff that Crist is merely looking for an avenue back into public office and is willing to throw out his principles to achieve the goal.
“Charlie Crist has the ability to meld into any character — from ‘Chain Gang Charlie’ to sympathetic ‘Man of the People’ — there is seemingly no role that he can’t play,” said one recent release from the Florida GOP, which has been blasting Crist regularly in anticipation of him running for governor as a Democrat.
Crist has been consistently opposed to taxes and gun control laws, but in many respects his record is appealing to Democratic activists and donors alike.
He has been a strong supporter of higher pay for teachers. He works for a leading trial lawyer. He was a leading advocate for civil rights as governor and attorney general. And though he describes himself as “pro-life,” his voting record in the Legislature was mostly in favor of abortion rights. He has long been more of a populist than a pro-big business Republican.
“What changed is the leadership of the Republican party,” Crist said in a phone interview Friday night. “As I said at the convention, I didn’t leave the Republican party, it left me. Whether the issue was immigration, or education, or your name it — the environment. I feel at home now.”
Charlie and Carole Crist had a tour of the White House Thursday and ran into Valerie Jarrett, a senior advisor to the president. He mentioned that he was thinking of signing papers to become a Democrat the next night at a White House reception.
“She said, ‘You’re always welcome in my party. I think it’s a great idea,’ ” Crist said.
The Obama administration has long had a strong relationship with Crist, who was one of the few high-profile Republicans to enthusiastically endorse the $700 billion stimulus package that he said helped keep Florida teachers and emergency workers employed and could have funded a high-speed rail initiative in Florida had Gov. Scott not rejected the money.
Crist is no shoo-in to win the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
Other prospective candidates include former chief financial officer and 2010 gubernatorial nominee Alex Sink, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, state Sen. Nan Rich of Weston, and former Miami-Dade Commissioner Jimmy Morales.
“Crist was an absolute warrior for President Obama and as a result, many of the party activists I talk to are willing to welcome him with open arms, and there is no question he is an extremely viable candidate for governor, though I don’t think that beating Alex Sink in a primary is any kind of sure thing,” said Democratic strategist Steve Schale, who worked on Sink’s campaign as well as both Obama Florida campaigns.
Sink, like Crist, has not committed to running for governor again, but in a Political Connections interview airing Sunday on Bay News 9, she said Crist’s potential candidacy would have little or no effect on her thinking.
“I don’t go anywhere without strangers walking up to me on the street and asking me, and sometimes begging me and sometimes crying about their desire to see me run again,” Sink said in the interview airing Sunday at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. “If I run I’m in it to win, no matter who the other comers are.”
So he got married to the beard for nothing?
Those exact same friends are also probably saying "You know Charlie, you're gay and you don't know it ....wait, you're a cock and an ass man ... so I guess you do know it."
He can find more tops as a Dem.
Charlie Crist ran for a US Senate seat in Florida. He lost to Marco Rubio. The Republicans were eager for a Latino to rise in office so they stampeded to help Rubio win even though Crist was long known to want that Senate seat. I think he made a foolish decision to switch to Democratic unless he's about to come out as gay. The Democratic party is even more eager to run non-white candidates.
[quote] his wife Carole
So he is gay?
He is a very personable man.
From what I've seen of him on MSNBC, he seems intelligent and kind! He seems like a kind-hearted man.
[quote]he has been steadily inching toward the Democratic party, first when his wife Carole switched her affiliation to Democrat
Wait, aren't beards under contract to do whatever their man demands? What's with this "independent thinking" bullshit?!
Behind every successful man is a strong woman .... with a strap-on!
Is that Carole with an "e" or Carole with a dick?
[quote]Charlie Crist ran for a US Senate seat in Florida. He lost to Marco Rubio. The Republicans were eager for a Latino to rise in office so they stampeded to help Rubio win even though Crist was long known to want that Senate seat.
1) The Republicans backed Rubio over Crist not because of Rubio's race, but rather because Crist is a moderate and Rubio is a reich-wing Tea Party favorite.
2) Rubio is Cuban. That does not make him "Latino" in the context of being a figure that all of America's Latinos can rally around. In fact, the largest group of Latinos in America -- Mexican-Americans and others with Central America backgrounds -- have almost nothing in common besides skin color with Cubans, who were living on a wealthy Caribbean island until Castro took over. Furthermore, there's a significant amount of intra-party racism between Mexicans and Cubans. Case in point: the recent election of Senator-elect Ted Cruz from Texas (who's Cuban), who won an overwhelming share of the white Republican vote but next to none of the Hispanic vote, aside from the handful of wealthy Hispanics who vote Republican regardless.
She's not a hired beard; they're actually close pals and like each other. She's perfectly OK with her role.
[quote]Mexican-Americans and others with Central America backgrounds -- have almost nothing in common besides skin color with Cubans....
Not even that. Mexicans are basically indigenous peoples, Mayan, Aztec, etc., with a bit of euro sometimes. Cubans are basically varying degrees of euro(mainly spanish)/afro mix.
They are totally different ethnically and culturally. the only common link is the spanish language. "Hispanic" is not a race.
Charlie Christ will probably be a blue dog Democrat. As long as he's only Florida's governor, he probably can't do much harm. He seems to be for voting rights, so that's good.
It would be hilarious if he came out of the closet, and then Floridians voted for him. The Republicans would all die of apoplexy.
Do you think they'll re-edit Outrage, now that Crist is a Democrat? Or, will they leave him in that documentary?
Shit, there has been a flurry of recently elected Democrats in the legislatures of the old Confederacy states who quickly change from "D" to "R".
Happens after every election and has been going on for about 10 years now.
It's slowing down though because all deep Southern legislatures are now in Repuke hands.
As Governor he can do a lot to Gerrymander the House Districts, so this could be a very good thing, especially if he has an axe to grind with the Republicans. He can also help fix the voting mess the Republicans have created.
If he'd stayed Republican, we could've had Christie/Crist or Crist/Christie in 2016.
Why would he be elected governor AGAIN? He was governor of Florida already.
He also revealed that as governor, the GOP attempted to have him suppress Dem votes. Even thought they didn't say it outright, it was pretty clear from what they wanted him to do.
He of course said no.
If we're talking about the best of the worst, Christ and Huntsman are right up there.
If he finally comes out and apologizes I'll accept him. He pisses me off with what he's done to gays being a big ol closeted mo himself.
[quote]The Democratic party is even more eager to run non-white candidates.
Which is perfect, 'cause he's orange
R24 He and Boehner need to create a conservative version of the Green Party and call it "The Orange Party." Should make for fun on St. Patrick's Day.
Signs papers? All you have to do is change your voter's registration card.
[quote]Signs papers? All you have to do is change your voter's registration card.
He did the long form.
[quote]They are totally different ethnically and culturally. the only common link is the spanish language. "Hispanic" is not a race.
Point taken. Also, one could point out that Cubans have been allowed to enter the country LEGALLY, thanks to that damn commie Castro, whereas Mexico has had a "troubled" relationship with the U.S. for 150 years or so, ever since that pesky Mexican-American war we won (which in turn resulted in mass riches for the U.S. once oil was discovered in Texas shortly thereafter).
He's gonna run for governor against the most vulnerable incumbents in office in 2014. Scott has known this for years. Considering that he spent millions of his own money in a wave election two years ago and just eeked out a one point win over the Dem, Crist would likely beat him in 2014.
Crist would also be a Senator now if it wasn't the disaster that was the Dem candidate. Meeks or something was his name?
Is he a bottom or top?
BTW, this is no shock to the Republicans because they have considered him a Democrat long before this. I know many Republicans who have said in the past that this guy should become a Democrat because he is only a Republican because that is his title not his political philosophy.
We always knew he was hiding 'donkey' in his closet.
He's smart, moderate and probably gay. He just did not belong in the GOP. And other than the closet, I see nothing wrong with this guy.
[quote]Rubio is Cuban. That does not make him "Latino" in the context of being a figure that all of America's Latinos can rally around.
Shhh! Let the Repugs run him and find that out the hard way.
As for Crist - back in 2008 he stated that Sarah Palin was more qualified to be president than Obama. Fuck him.
[quote]Senator-elect Ted Cruz from Texas (who's Cuban), who won an overwhelming share of the white Republican vote but next to none of the Hispanic vote, aside from the handful of wealthy Hispanics who vote Republican regardless.
That says it all.
All will be forgiven here at the DL, and Crist will be regarded as the font of eternal truth.
Does he really think the GOP won't out him if he runs and looks like he could win?