Charlie Crist Makes Leap: Signs Papers to Become a Democrat

Charlie Crist was a high-profile campaigner for Obama in Florida.

And so former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist makes the leap: after being virtually exiled from his party as a RINO who dared to seem to be too close to President Barack Obama — and claiming to have his political roots in Jeb Bush and Ronald Reagan Republicanism –he has now signed papers to become a Democrat.

It isn’t a surprise: after being dissed and dismissed by many Tea Party and hard-line conservatives for providing aid and comfort to the political enemy (seeming to want to get along with Barack Obama), he came out for Obama during the recent election campaing. So now we have this:

It was just a matter of time. Charlie Crist is becoming a Democrat.

Crist — Florida’s former Republican governor who relished the tough-on-crime nickname “Chain Gang Charlie” and used to describe himself variously as a “Ronald Reagan Republican” and a “Jeb Bush Republican” — on Friday evening signed papers changing his party from independent to Democrat.

He did so during a Christmas reception at the White House, where President Barack Obama greeted the news with a fist bump for the man who had a higher profile campaigning for Obama’s re-election this year than any Florida Democrat.

The widely expected move positions Crist, 56, for another highly anticipated step: announcing his candidacy for governor, taking on Republican incumbent Gov. Rick Scott and an untold number of Democrats who would challenge him for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

Then Crist said something upon which Democrats and Rush Limbaugh would agree:

“I’ve had friends for years tell me, ‘You know Charlie, you’re a Democrat and you don’t know it,’ ” Crist, a career-long populist, recounted Friday night from Washington, D.C.

In fact, to many moderates Crist had seemed the reflection of that wing of the GOP that sparked frequent — and frequently successful — RINO hunting expeditions led by Tea Partiers and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. He was the kind of Republican some GOPers on the right felt was not pure enough.

Crist has been registered with no party affiliation since the spring of 2010, when his Republican candidacy for U.S. Senate was fizzling against Republican upstart Marco Rubio. Since losing that race, he has been steadily inching toward the Democratic Party, first when his wife, Carole, switched her affiliation to Democrat and later when he threw himself into Obama’s re-election campaign, earning a prominent speaking slot during the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

Critics from both parties sniff that Crist is merely looking for an avenue back into public office and is willing to throw out his principles to achieve the goal.

“Charlie Crist has the ability to meld into any character — from ‘Chain Gang Charlie’ to sympathetic ‘Man of the People’ — there is seemingly no role that he can’t play,” said one recent release from the Florida GOP, which has been blasting Crist regularly in anticipation of him running for governor as a Democrat.

But:
1. Modern politics is all about trying to discredit those perceived as a threat, so the Florida GOP’s reaction is expected.
2. Is Christ really just melding into characters? Or has he basically been a moderate Republican — that kind of Republican being weeded out of the GOP, the kind of Republican who may not do well when he runs as a Democrat since Democrats still perceive him as a Republican, but the kind of Republican who can pick up a lot of independent voters and voters not happy with the existing Democratic or Republican Parties?

No matter:

Crist has now taken the leap…