Charlie Crist announces plans to run for governor



ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist kicked off his second gubernatorial campaign -- this time, as a Democrat -- at a rally Monday. The announcement was made in Albert Whitted Park in St. Petersburg.

"So today, I announce that I am running for governor of Florida," Crist said.

In his announcement, Crist said he wants the governor's job back to reinvest in education. Crist served as Florida's education commissioner from 2001 to 2003.

Crist also said he wants to create a global trade hub to bring more business to Florida. He emphasized Florida's Space Coast as being attractive to businesses looking for engineering talent.

"We deserve a governor who will embrace the best of all of us. We deserve a governor who will stand up for the people. I always have, and I always will," said Crist.

Crist filed paperwork to get in the race Friday. He's now the Democratic frontrunner in the contest to challenge Gov. Rick Scott, one of the most unpopular chief executives in the country.

Democratic leaders see Crist as a charismatic candidate who can appeal to independent voters and lead the party back to power.

But Republican officials paint Crist as a political opportunist with no principles. Scott is expected to spend as much as $25 million in attack ads to amplify that message in what will be one of the most-watched races in the country.

Cheers for former governor Crist were met with an advertisement from the Republican Party of Florida.

His former party used the words of fellow members of his new party against him, calling the Republican-turned-Independent-turned-Democrat an opportunist.

"I don't know any politician in the history of America that's changed so many of their beliefs, so quickly, as my friend Charlie Crist. That's really the question for the people of Florida: What do they believe in? What is he? If he is reelected, what will he do?" Sen. George LeMieux said.

WFTV political analyst Rick Fogelsong says the notoriety of both candidates to voters means viewers could see the worst of both play out on the air.

"I think it's going to be a nasty race. Both candidates are known to voters, so they don't need to identify themselves to voters. So what they'll do is to attack the other guy," Fogelsong said.

As former education commissioner, Crist is putting a focus on funding schools and insisting to the crowd of supporters the party flip-flop doesn't matter.

"When you become governor, you're not the governor for one party, you're governor for all Floridians," Crist said.