Crist Announces Run For Governor As Democrat

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CBS Miami News Copy

ST. PETERSBURG (CBSMiami/NSF) – Former Florida Governor Charlie Crist announced Monday he will run for governor in 2014, challenging Republican Governor Rick Scott.
“Today, I announce I am running for governor of Florida,” Crist said Monday. “The more I watched Rick Scott govern, always putting the special interest over your interest; I knew it was time to take Florida in another direction.”

Crist will be running for state office for the first time as a Democrat.

“The reason is to put you back in charge,” Crist said. “You deserve a governor who wakes up thinking every day about you.”
Charlie Crist’s comeback pitch has a little of something for everyone. It’s a mix of contrition, outrage and pride tempered by humility as the former governor launches his second bid for the office, this time as a Democrat.

The longtime Republican and short-time independent before his conversion into a Democrat last year is parlaying his partisan passage into a play on voters’ frustrations with government.
“I don’t have to tell you that what we have in Florida today isn’t working,” Crist said playing off Scott’s campaign message. “Tallahassee is out of control. The voice of the people has been silenced by the financial bullies. You have no advocate there anymore. The seat the people occupied at the table was replaced by special interest.”

But Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry said Crist’s agenda lacks any discussion of jobs and economy, the backbone of Scott’s election in 2010 and his re-election campaign. Curry said Crist “was a complete failure” as governor.

Monday, Crist didn’t run from his record saying, “I am proud of my record as your governor, investing in public education and stopping the layoff of some 20,000 school teachers during the global economic meltdown.”

Crist said his number one priority was education which would help create jobs and attract employers.

“By 2010, we want to be in the top 10 percent in the world,” Crist said. “We should wake up every morning asking ourselves what are we doing today to ensure that our students are succeeding tomorrow.”

Crist said the support Scott is giving education, “is pitiful.” He continued saying he would reverse the bright futures cuts and give incentives to state students who agree to stay in Florida.
Crist mentioned that he wants to get the state back to working on a high-speed rail project. Scott refused $2.4 billion from the Obama Administration for a high-speed rail project from Tampa to Orlando. Crist had previously accepted the money for the project.

The former governor raised questions about Scott’s character, reviving attacks by former Attorney General Bill McCollum who lost to Scott in a bitter primary in 2010. Scott earned his fortune as the former CEO of Columbia/HCA, the health care giant which paid $1.7 billion in fines and settlements to resolve accusations of Medicare and Medicaid fraud after he left the company.
Crist chastised Scott for vowing to spend $25 million immediately to run negative ads against him. Reports last week said a Scott political action committee (PAC) will spend up to $525,000 starting Monday to campaign against Crist.

“The far right wing seems to make much of my party affiliation. That’s precisely what’s wrong with politics today,” Crist said. “When people give you the honor of being the governor, you aren’t the governor for one party, you are governor for all the people. It’s not a sin to reach across the aisle.”

The Democratic nomination is not automatic for Crist as he will be in a primary against former Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich, who has been in the governor’s race for more than a year. Rich, a favorite of progressives, is having a difficult time raising money and has less than $100,000 in cash in her campaign account, which Crist may eclipse on his first official day on the trail.

Crist — dubbed Florida’s “first black governor” by a former state representative — has had rock star status among some African-Americans, who make up about 27 percent of Democratic registered voters. He extended early voting during the 2008 election, which some credit with Obama’s win in Florida. Crist also refused to play Florida’s state song, “Old Folks at Home,” at his gubernatorial inaugural celebration in 2007.

Crist said Scott and the Cabinet members — Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam — who unanimously supported the new policy “all gotta go.”

“We deserve a governor who believes all Floridians deserve a voice…not the politics of Washington. We deserve a governor who will stand up for the people. I always have and I always will.”

Associated Press release

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist is kicking off his campaign to run for his old job as a Democrat.

Crist is holding a rally Monday morning near his St. Petersburg home to begin his campaign for governor. He filed paperwork Friday to get in the race.

The event is in the same park where he announced in 2010 that he would run for Senate as an independent. He lost that race to Marco Rubio and is now trying to make a political comeback as a Democrat.

Crist has been building up to the campaign, last year campaigning for Democratic President Barack Obama and this year speaking to Democratic party groups.

Former state Sen. Nan Rich is also seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

Associated Press release

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Former Florida Republican governor turned Democrat Charlie Crist has filed paperwork to run for his old job with his new party.

The state Division of Elections posted the filing on its website Friday. Crist couldn't be immediately reached for comment, but has an announcement scheduled for Monday morning in St. Petersburg.

Crist has been building up to an announcement for months, talking to Democratic groups and campaigning with Democratic candidates. That includes President Barack Obama last year.

He has already set up a website, and his speeches recently have criticized Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

Scott's political committee has already bought anti-Crist ads to begin airing the day of the announcement and the race is expected to be one of the most expensive, brutal governor's races in the county next year.

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