Once GOP governor of Florida, Crist launches run as Democrat

He could face stiff competition for Democratic nomination

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, gestures during a campaign rally as he announces his run for Florida governor Tuesday, May 4, 2021, in St. Petersburg, Fla.
U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, gestures during a campaign rally as he announces his run for Florida governor Tuesday, May 4, 2021, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, who served as Florida governor for a single term before running other offices, is seeking the state’s highest office once again — this time as a Democrat.

After releasing videos Tuesday confirming his candidacy, Christ held an outdoor rally that sought to contrast his record with that of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“I’m running so you will be in charge again,” Crist told the crowd at a campaign kickoff rally in St. Petersburg. “No, friends, it will not be easy, but nothing worth doing is.”

U.S. Rep. Val Demings, Agricuture Commissionr Nikki Fried and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham are frequently mentioned as potential Democratic candidates. There may well be others.

In Tallahassee, Fried told reporters her aim is clear on running for governor, but it’s not quite time to announce anything.

“As the only statewide elected Democrat it makes absolute sense for me to be running for governor. But today is not the day for me to be making this announcement,” Fried said.

Crist has some built-in advantages in terms of name recognition and a strong fund-raising network, said Aubrey Jewett, political science professor at the University of Central Florida.