It was just a matter of time. Charlie Crist is becoming a Democrat.
— 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.
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 re-election this year than any
The widely expected move positions Crist, 56, for another highly
anticipated 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.
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 re-election campaign, earning a prominent speaking
slot during the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. (Continues)