Greek American Congressman Charlie Crist announced on Tuesday his candidacy for governor of Florida, stating that he would run as a Democrat.
Crist, who is currently serving as a member of Congress from Florida’s 13th Congressional district, frames his candidacy as a direct challenge to incumbent Republican governor Ron DeSantis.
In his video in which he announced his plan to run, Crist savaged DeSantis as an out-of-touch politician who cares only for his personal political future and the interests of his largest donors. In addition, Crist slammed DeSantis for what he says was a failure to lead Florida through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Today, Florida has a governor that’s only focused on his future, not yours,” Crist said in his announcement video.
DeSantis, who is among the most popular Republican politicians nationwide, is seen as a strong contender for 2024 if former President Donald Trump forgoes a run at the presidency. His initial victory in 2018’s race for Florida’s governor was in part successful because of his unabashed support for, and from, the former president.
Crist makes this his third run to be Florida’s governor
This would not be Crist’s first bid for the governor’s house in Tallahassee. Crist already served as governor of the state from 2007 to 2011. Back then, Crist was a Republican who led his state as a political moderate.
His moderation was in part the reason why his popularity plummeted with Republican voters. This was on clear display with the firestorm generated by a hug he shared with President Barack Obama in 2009, something Crist admitted “ended my viable life as a Republican politician.”
Crist decided against a re-election bid initially because in 2010 he ran for a seat in the United States Senate as an independent. He was defeated that year by current U.S Senator Marco Rubio, and Crist reentered private life.
After realizing that his future as a Republican candidate was over, Crist joined the Democratic Party in 2012. At the Democratic National Convention that year, Crist endorsed President Obama and uttered an oft-repeated line of politicians who switch parties.
“I didn’t leave the Republican Party, the Republican Party left me,” he proclaimed.
Crist ran for his old position as governor in 2014 as a Democrat but was defeated in a close race. Not content to stay out of politics for long, however, Crist won his current seat in Congress in 2016. This was significant not only because it was a year when President Trump won in a dramatic upset, but also because it flipped a Congressional district that had only elected Republicans since 1955.
After announcing his bid for governor, DeSantis mocked Crist by pointing to his past runs as an independent and as a candidate for both parties.
“Which party is he going to run under?” asked DeSantis sarcastically.
If Crist’s run is successful in 2022, he would be the first Democrat elected to the governorship of Florida since 1994. This would be undoubtedly ironic given his past as a Republican.
A veteran Greek-American politician
Crist is of Greek-Cypriot descent on the paternal side of his family. His last name is actually adapted from the original family name of Christodoulos.
To date, Crist has used his family’s journey from Cyprus to the United States to highlight the American Dream, that he believes is available to all new immigrants.
“My grandfather came to this country from Cyprus with nothing but the clothes on his back. His first job was shining shoes. He achieved the #AmericanDream through hard work and determination. Today’s immigrants are no different,” Crist wrote on Twitter for Immigrant Heritage Month in June 2018.
My grandfather came to this country from Cyprus with nothing but the clothes on his back. His first job was shining shoes. He achieved the #AmericanDream through hard work and determination. Today’s immigrants are no different. What’s your American story? #ImmigrantHeritageMonth pic.twitter.com/Rxb6V7oxmw
— Congressman Charlie Crist (@RepCharlieCrist) June 6, 2018