Charles Joseph “Charlie” Crist, Jr. (/ˈkrɪst/; born July 24, 1956) is an American attorney and politician who served as the 44th Governor of Florida from 2007 to 2011.
Crist began his political career as a Republican, serving in the Florida Senate from 1993 to 1999, running unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 1998 when he challenged incumbent Bob Graham and then serving as Florida Education Commissioner from 2001 to 2003 and Florida Attorney General from 2003 to 2007, before being elected Governor in 2006.
Crist decided not to run for re-election as Governor in 2010, instead announcing on May 12, 2009 that he was running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by then-fellow Republican Mel Martinez. After initially leading in the race for the Republican nomination, he was overtaken in the polls by Marco Rubio, and in April 2010, Crist left the Republican Party and became an Independent. In the general election, he lost to Rubio in a three-way race, taking 30% of the vote to Rubio’s 49% and Democratic nominee Kendrick Meek’s 20%. Crist’s term as Governor ended in January 2011.
On December 7, 2012, he joined the Democratic Party, having endorsed President Barack Obama for re-election in 2012. On November 1, 2013, he announced that he was running for governor in the 2014 election. However, he was defeated by incumbent Governor Rick Scott, losing by a 1% margin.