ST. PETERSBURG (AP) — Joined by a gaggle of news media, former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist on Thursday officially filed paperwork to become a Democrat in his hometown of St. Petersburg, more than six years after he was elected to the state’s top job as a Republican.
The move wasn’t a surprise; last week, the former Republican tweeted his intention to change parties, talked to reporters about the switch and filled out his voter registration card at a White House holiday function.
On Thursday, Crist was mum on whether he would seek his old job and challenge Republican Governor Rick Scott in 2014.
“I can’t tell you how comfortable I am as a Democrat,” Crist said. “I just want to listen. This is a process that’s very important to me and I don’t take it lightly.”
He said he has not been offered any positions in the Obama administration, but he said that some in the administration have encouraged him to run for governor.
Crist criticized Scott for defunding education, his stance on the environment and for turning down
$2 billion in federal money for a high speed rail.
“Florida needed it, wanted it, and was ready for it,” Crist said.
Crist added that there were a few issues he would handle differently than when he was governor — including his signing of a petition banning same-sex marriage. He said Thursday that he would not sign that petition today.
“Everybody makes mistakes in life,” Crist said. “I think the older you get the wiser you become.”
Crist was elected governor as a Republican in 2006 and ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate as an independent in 2010, losing a three-way contest to Republican Marco Rubio.
After filing his paperwork at the Supervisor of Elections office in downtown St. Petersburg, Crist posed for photos and joked with some of the office’s employees.
“You know what I’d call you three,” Crist said to three women as he posed for photos. “Charlie’s Angels.”