ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has announced on Twitter that he's joining the Democratic Party.
Crist sent out a Tweet on Friday night that said, "Proud and honored to join the Democratic Party in the home of President (at)Barack Obama!"
The Tweet included a photo of a smiling Crist holding up a Florida voter registration application. The Tampa Bay Times reports that the former Republican governor signed the papers changing his affiliation from independent to Democrat at a Christmas reception at The White House.
A message left for Crist wasn't immediately returned Friday night.
Crist was elected Florida governor while in the GOP. He left the party and ran as an independent for the U.S. Senate, losing a three-way contest to Republican Marco Rubio. Crist is viewed as potential Democratic candidate against Republican Gov. Rick Scott.
The announcement fanned speculation that Crist would seek to regain his old job from Republican Gov. Rick Scott in 2014.
Steve Schale, a Democratic political consultant who worked on Obama's Florida campaign, called a Crist a "viable Democrat."
"He earned his stripes when he supported the president," Schale said.
But Schale predicted that if Crist runs for governor, he would likely get a challenge from Sink and other Democrats and would have to endure a hard-fought primary.
Republicans in recent weeks have already ramped up their criticism of Crist and have pointed out that in the past he was critical of Obama and once described himself as a Republican in the mold of President Ronald Reagan and Crist's predecessor as governor, Jeb Bush.
"Charlie Crist's first official act as a Democrat was to tell a lie about why he is now pretending to be one," the Florida GOP said in a statement early Saturday. "The truth is that this self-professed, Ronald-Reagan Republican only abandoned his pro-life, pro-gun, conservative principles in 2010 after he realized that Republicans didn't want to send him to Washington D.C. as a senator, especially after he proved he couldn't do the job as governor."
Rick Wilson, a Florida-based Republican consultant, predicted that Crist would have to spend the next 14 months explaining how his switch to Democrat was something beyond just his own political ambitions.