Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist officially registered as a Democrat yesterday in what is likely a prelude to entering the 2014 gubernatorial contest against incumbent Rick Scott (R). Crist announced the move via his Twitter account, Tweeting a picture Friday of he and his beaming wife with his Florida voter registration form. Crist, as a Republican, served one term as governor and chose to run for Senate instead of seeking re-election. The move proved politically disastrous.
Marco Rubio, then a former state House Speaker, ran such an effective early Republican primary campaign that Crist was literally forced out of the party, choosing to run in the general election as an Independent. He placed second to Rubio, trailing 49-30 percent, but came in 10 points ahead of the Democratic nominee, then-Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-FL-17).
Usually, a party-switcher’s most difficult election is his first primary in the new party. If Crist enters the Democratic nomination contest, he almost assuredly will have competition. In fact, he could still face the Democratic 2010 gubernatorial nominee, former Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, who only lost to Scott by a scant one percentage point, 49-48 percent. Sink has yet to rule out another run.
Scott is viewed as vulnerable because his job approval ratings have continued to hover around the 40 percent mark or lower for most of his tenure. As is the case for virtually every race in Florida, the contest is expected to be close.