Charlie Crist Becomes a Democrat

Former Republican governor backed Obama

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 8, 2012 5:06 AM CST

(Newser) – From Republican to independent to Democrat: Florida's former GOP governor Charlie Crist has completed the paperwork to join the Democratic Party. "I've had friends for years tell me, 'You know, Charlie, you're a Democrat and you don't know it,'" he said in Washington, where he was attending a White House Christmas reception. The move is no surprise, the Tampa Bay Times notes. Crist battled hard for President Obama in this year's election, including speaking at the Democratic convention. Upon changing affiliation, he got a fist-bump from the president.

"What changed is the leadership of the Republican Party," Crist says. "As I said at the convention, I didn't leave the Republican Party, it left me." He turned independent in the spring of 2010, when he was battling for a Senate seat which he ultimately lost to Republican Marco Rubio. While he has long fought gun control laws and tax hikes, Crist has taken an array of Dem-friendly positions, including pushing for civil rights and calling for higher teacher pay, the Times notes. But some members of both parties see the shift simply as preparation to run for governor against the GOP's Rick Scott.

President Obama, accompanied by former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, second from right, waves to supporters as he arrives at a campaign stop in Delray Beach, Fla., Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012.
President Obama, accompanied by former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, second from right, waves to supporters as he arrives at a campaign stop in Delray Beach, Fla., Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012.   (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
Ex-Governor Charlie Crist, right, answers a question from the audience as five former Florida governors met together Friday, Oct. 12, 2012 in Gainesville, Fla.
Ex-Governor Charlie Crist, right, answers a question from the audience as five former Florida governors met together Friday, Oct. 12, 2012 in Gainesville, Fla.   (AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)
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