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Charlie Crist Announces He's Running For Governor

People standing on stage, holding hands lifted in the air
Steve Newborn/WUSF Public Media
Supporters of U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist joined him on stage following his Tuesday announcement that he is making a third run to become Florida governor, He served in that role from 2007-2011.

The former governor made the announcement Tuesday morning on Twitter ahead of his scheduled press conference in St. Petersburg.

Former Florida Governor and current Democratic Congressman Charlie Crist this morning announced he's vying for a third run for the state's top office.

Before the announcement in his hometown of St. Petersburg, Crist released a statement and video saying Republican Governor Ron DeSantis is only focused on his future.

His official announcement happened just before noon in St. Petersburg's Midtown neighborhood, a historic African American neighborhood. He told the crowd of about 200 that he’s running “so you will be in charge again."

There “too little decency and integrity” in Florida politics, he said.

The main target of Crist's speech is incumbent Gov. Ron DeSantis. He was critical of how the Republican has handled Florida's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“How many lives would have been saved if Gov. Ron DeSantis paid attention to the pandemic?“ he asked. "He's failed to lead during the greatest health and economic crisis of our lifetime. Local officials were forced to fend for themselves, without direction from our state. Scientists and doctors offered advice. But he listened to quacks and conspiracy theorists. He's waged a constant assault on democracy from voting rights to civil rights."

man standing in front of microphones, talking to reporters
Steve Newborn/WUSF Public Media
U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist announced his third run for Florida Governor on Tuesday.

Among those introducing Crist were state Representative Ben Diamond of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County Commissioners Janet Long and Rene Flowers.

Crist is the first candidate to announce a run for the Democratic nomination. State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is pondering a run, and without naming Crist, suggested that Democratic members of Congress shouldn't leave their seats.

Fried, the only statewide elected Democrat, feels Crist should have run for re-election to his congressional seat in a swing area.

“It is a time when we need his voice and his vote up in Washington DC. His seat is one that only probably Charlie Crist can hold on to," Fried said. "So, I’d really like to have encouraged him to stay in Congress. But, certainly today is Charlie’s day and I wish him the best of luck.”

Orlando congresswoman Val Demings also is rumored to be considering entering the race.

DeSantis says he is ready to fight with Crist and other Democrats.

“I implore them, from my political interests, to run on closing schools, run on locking people down, run on closing businesses. I would love to have that debate.”