ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — Former Florida governor and current U.S. Congressman Charlie Crist jumped into Florida’s 2022 gubernatorial race on Tuesday.
Crist announced his campaign for governor Tuesday morning in a video posted on Twitter.
“Florida should be a place where hard work is rewarded, justice is equal, and opportunity is right in front of you. That’s a Florida for all — and that’s why I’m running for Governor,” Crist said in the tweet.
The campaign announcement on Twitter was made hours before Crist was scheduled to speak in Pinellas County. The “major announcement” is set to begin at 11 a.m.
Crist previously served as Florida’s governor from 2007 to 2011 as a Republican. He announced he was leaving the party in 2010 and running for Senate as an independent. He joined the Democratic Party in 2012 and endorsed President Barack Obama for reelection.
Crist was then elected to the U.S. House to represent his home district – District 13 – in 2016 after defeating incumbent Republican David Jolly.
Dr. Ed Benton, a political science professor at the University of South Florida told 8 On Your Side Crist will face an uphill battle trying to unseat incumbent Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“DeSantis is in good shape in terms of appealing to the base he wants to appeal to and I’d say the efforts of Crist and anyone else, it’s going to be tougher today that it was a month or two ago,” Benton said. “DeSantis is putting in his best cards now, and that is, hey, we’re roping up the economy, the economy is poised to move forward, cruise ships will be able to sail, and things are back to normal, and who should get the credit for that, Ron DeSantis.”
Crist may also have to beat out Democratic opponents in the gubernatorial primary, like Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, U.S. Congresswoman Val Demmings of Orlando or former U.S. Representative Gwen Graham, who ran for governor in 2018.
“I don’t think there’s going to be a bloodbath in the Democratic party or primary,” Benton said. “I think when they see – if Fried or Crist or Graham or others who run – see the handwriting on the wall that one has a clear chance to secure the nomination, I think they will fall behind the leader.”
Fried weighed in on Twitter shortly after Crist’s announcement. The commissioner quote-tweeted a journalist who said she was “thinking about that time Charlie Crist said Florida was ‘desperate for more leaders like Nikki.'”
“Me, too,” Fried wrote with a smiley face.
Neither Fried nor Demings have officially announced a run for governor yet, but Demings did post a promotional-style video to her campaign Twitter page Tuesday morning highlighting her work as a public servant.