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A Charlie Crist Bid For Gov 2014: What That Could Mean For Dem Candidates

Former Republican Governor Charlie Crist is officially a Democrat. Some say it reaffirms speculation he’s planning another run for Governor in 2014. But, others wonder what this means for the other Democrats who have thrown their hat into the ring.

Here’s how the list of who’ll run for Governor in 2014 is shaping up so far:

Governor Rick Scott has already said he’ll be running for re-election. Then, there’s former Senator Nan Rich, who’s the first Democrat to announce plans to run against Scott.

“I’m in it, and I’m in it to win it,” said Rich, laughing.

There’s also been speculation about other Democratic contenders, including former Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, who ran an unsuccessful campaign against Scott in 2008.

“There is no path to victory for us. So, therefore, Rick Scott will be the next Governor of the state of Florida,” said Sink in her concession speech.

But, one of the most talked about potential candidates is former Republican Governor Charlie Crist, who helped President Barack Obama campaign for his re-election, and was the Keynote Speaker at this year’s Democratic National Convention.

“Half a century ago, Ronald Reagan, the man whose optimism was inspiring to me to enter politics, famously said at one time that he did not leave the Democratic Party. But, the party left him," said Crist, speaking at the DNC. "Well, listen, I can relate, I didn’t leave the Republican Party, it left me.”

During that time, Crist was registered as having no party affiliation---a status leftover from his failed bid to be U.S. Senator in 2010. But, now Crist is a Democrat, and some are taking that as evidence he will run against Governor Rick Scott.

And, former Senate Democratic leader and Crist’s potential opponent Nan Rich says if Crist enters the race, she has no plans to back down.

“I’ve told people for quite some time that whoever comes into the Democratic Primary, will have to prove their credentials as a Democrat, and I’m willing to put mine up against any of the candidates, including former Governor Crist, if he decides this is what he wants to do,” said Rich.

Many believe Crist could be a top contender, like Governor Peter Shumlin, the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association. He recently told C-SPAN if Crist ran, he could be one of the leading Democratic candidates.

“We will be having conversations with him certainly. And, we’re not eliminating other candidates, I just want to be clear about that, but Charlie is a very strong candidate,” said Shumlin.

Meanwhile, Republicans say they knew Crist’s party switch was coming, and Republican Party of Florida Spokesman Brian Burgess says Democrats should be careful what they wish for.

“Anytime a 'pro-life, Ronald Regan Republican' wants to go in there and change the Democratic Party and make it more pro-life, more pro-gun, I think that’s great," said Burgess. "That’s what Charlie Crist stood for. He said a number of times, he’s as conservative as you can get.”

Over the weekend, Republicans said if Crist runs against Scott in the final gubernatorial showdown, then they’ll be extra motivated to re-elect Gov. Rick Scott.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on twitter @SaschaCordner.

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.