Charlie Crist, a former Florida Republican governor turned Democratic congressman, has officially declared his gubernatorial campaign after weeks of speculation, kicking things off with a “Florida for All” theme in a video released on social media early Tuesday. The video featured highlights of his first term as governor more than 14 years ago, and then turned darker as the final minute focused on a series of negative attacks against Governor Ron DeSantis.
The video served as a preview for his formal announcement slated for 11am on Tuesday at an event in his hometown of St. Petersburg.
Crist is the first Democrat to step up to challenge DeSantis in 2022, but he likely won’t be the last.
In a move that could be viewed as an attempt to pour cold water on the Crist announcement, fellow Florida Congresswoman Val Demmings tweeted a campaign video of her own early Tuesday – and while her video came from a previous congressional campaign, it portrays her as “ready for the moment,” and the timing of the social media post couldn’t have been more pointed, going up just two hours before Crist posted his much anticipated announcement:
Ready for the moment. pic.twitter.com/KyVis3xMy2
— Val Demings (@val_demings) May 4, 2021
Crist, who currently represents Florida’s 13th Congressional District, has a long career inside Florida’s political arena. He served in the state Senate from 1993 to 1999, before running unsuccessfully against incumbent Bob Graham for the U.S. Senate in 1998. Crist would then transition inside the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE), serving as education commissioner from 2001 to 2003.
Crist rose to statewide prominence in 2003, serving as Florida’s attorney general before winning the governor’s mansion as a Republican in 2006. He decided not to seek a second term, instead running in 2010 for a U.S. Senate seat, which he lost to Senator Marco Rubio.
After leaving the GOP, Crist tried to mount a comeback as a Democrat in 2014, losing the governor’s race to former Governor turned U.S. Senator Rick Scott.
Crist was elected to Congress from his home district in 2016.
This will be Crist’s third campaign for Florida governor.