ST. PETERSBURG (CBSMiami/AP) — Charlie Crist just can’t seem to walk away from the political game.READ MORE: How's This For A Photobomb? Palm Bay Cop Takes Selfie With Gator Stuck In Storm Drain
The former Republican governor is back at it again – this time trying to revive his political career as a Democrat.
He’s running for a U.S. House seat against an incumbent Republican who has distanced himself from the party.
Crist, 60, faces U.S. Rep. David Jolly, who has represented Florida’s 13th Congressional District since 2014 but who has set himself apart from many Republicans this election season by speaking out about campaign fundraising and refusing to endorse presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Former lawyer Crist has a hometown advantage in St. Petersburg where he was raised and where he’s running in a redrawn district with 20,293 more Democrats than Republicans following a court-ordered redistricting. That puts Jolly, 43, in the position of underdog in the race despite being the incumbent. Many polls have indicated a close race.
Tension between the two emerged on Day One when Jolly showed up at Crist’s announcement at a local park and wasted no time in commenting to the media, saying Crist was a political opportunist.
Crist, who was governor from 2007 to 2011, ran for Senate as a Republican in 2010, but Crist dropped out of the Republican primary when Marco Rubio passed him in the polls and ran as an independent. Rubio defeated him in the general election. After the election, Crist become a Democrat, and ran unsuccessfully for governor against Rick Scott in 2014.
Democrat Andrew Reed said he voted for Crist because he knew him better than Jolly.
“And because of the views he had when he ran for governor a couple of years ago,” said Reed, a 34-year-old cook who voted for a third party candidate in the presidential election.READ MORE: CDC Advisers Recommend Who Can Get Booster Shots Of Pfizer's COVID-19 Vaccine
While Crist has name recognition in St. Petersburg, he’s spent time this election season campaigning in the more suburban areas of the district in Clearwater. And Jolly has branched out to seek African-American votes in St. Petersburg, vowing that if re-elected, he will open a district office in the midtown section of the city.
Jolly’s faced some hurdles within his own party. He’s refused to fundraise for the national party while working in Washington and proposed a bill banning members of Congress from personally soliciting donations.
As of Sept. 30, he’d raised $1.75 million to Crist’s $1.4 million. But Crist is getting help from the Democratic Party and other political action committees.
Crist’s party-switching didn’t sit right with Bud Aston, a retired military service member at the Mainlands retirement community in Pinellas Park. Aston, 74, wore a “Make America Great Again” hat and said he voted a straight Republican ticket, including for Jolly.
“Charlie Crist is a turncoat,” Aston said.
Both Crist and Jolly have used Trump against each other, making it an unusual race for voters to watch. The race may be one of the few nationally in which the Republican candidate is using Donald Trump against the Democrat.
Jolly has highlighted Crist’s meetings and campaign donations from Trump when he was governor. And the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ran a TV ad with altered photos, portraying Jolly as a friend of Trump’s. Jolly says he’s never met Trump.
For more on Campaign 2016, click here.MORE NEWS: Former FDA Commissioner: Delta Variant May Be Last Major Wave Of Infection
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