In a stunning turn of events which likely shock …. nobody, former Florida Republican Governor Charlie Crist announced on Friday that he was now Florida Democrat Hoping To Be Governor Charlie Crist.
Crist sent out a tweet that said, “Proud and honored to join the Democratic Party in the home of President (at)Barack Obama!”
The tweet included a photo of a smiling Crist and his wife Carole as he held up a Florida voter registration application. The Tampa Bay Times reports that Crist signed the papers changing his affiliation from independent to Democrat at a Christmas reception at the White House. President Barack Obama greeted the news with a fist bump.
“I’ve had friends for years tell me, ‘You know Charlie, you’re a Democrat and you don’t know it,'” Crist told the newspaper Friday night.
Here’s the photo in question, with Crist holding up his new voter registration form.
At the Tampa Bay Times, Adam Smith reminds us of the rather breathtaking “evolution” that the former Governor’s projected image has undergone over the years he’s spent in politics. At one time, his tough on crime, no nonsense attitude was the basis for the nickname, “Chain Gang Charlie.” He has, at various times, referred to himself as a “Ronald Reagan Republican” and a “Jeb Bush Republican” among other monikers.
Crist also is a long time supporter of several positions which would seem to make him a curious fit for the Democrats. Not only has he been a steady defender of capital punishment, he was responsible for Florida’s “bring your guns to work” law. He was also a state leader in opposing gay marriage, working to get the state constitution amended to that effect, and even opposed gay couples being able to adopt children. (Though he has since backpedaled on that one a bit.)
Given all of that, I’m left wondering precisely how widely Crist would be welcomed by Democrats, beyond simply enjoying a headline featuring a Republican switching sides. There’s nothing wrong with people having positions which truly evolve over time as they mature and collect more information on the subject matter. But that’s not as common late in life, and if you’re perceived to be “evolving” for reasons of political convenience rather than a true shift in your belief system, voters tend to pick up on that and not reward the candidate for it. If Charlie Crist sees this as his meal ticket back into the Florida Governor’s Mansion, he may be in for a disappointing outing, and there are already plenty of life long Democrats with an eye on the seat who he’d need to beat in a primary anyway.