|44th Governor of Florida|
From: January 2, 2007 – January 4, 2011
|35th Attorney General of Florida|
|Party||Republican (until 2010)|
Charles Joseph "Charlie" Crist, Jr. (born July 24, 1956), is an attorney and a former governor, state Senator and Attorney General of the State of Florida. He served as a Republican for the majority of his term as governor, before becoming an Independent in 2010. He joined the Democrats in 2012.
Crist ran for the U.S. Senate in 2010, competing in the GOP primary race for the seat held by Crist's own appointee, Senator George LeMieux. LeMieux had replaced Senator Mel Martinez, who had announced he was quitting the Senate. Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, Marco Rubio, also ran for the seat in the 2010 GOP primary. Crist started trailing in the polls to Rubio by large margins and in April 2010 he decided to run as a Independent as it appeared he would lose the nomination to Rubio. Rubio won the general election in November 2010 by a margin of 49% to 30%, with Democrat Kendrick Meek getting 20% of the vote.
Early life and education
Crist was born in Altoona, Pennsylvania, the second child of four and the only son of Charles Joseph Crist, Sr. and his wife Nancy. Crist's Greek grandparents had immigrated to the area in 1912. His family moved to St. Petersburg, Florida, in 1960, where his father practiced medicine.
Crist served as class president at St. Petersburg High School and, later, as student body vice president at Florida State University. In high school Crist was the starting quarterback for his football team. He later played football at Wake Forest University before transferring and receiving his undergraduate degree from Florida State in 1978. Crist went on to earn his law degree in 1981 from the Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, Alabama.
Crist received invaluable experience in Florida’s criminal justice system while working as an intern in the State Attorney’s Office before accepting a position as general counsel for the minor league division of the Baseball Commissioner’s Office.
Crist began his government service as state director for U.S. Senator Connie Mack before later returning to the private practice of law with the Tampa firm of Wood and Crist.
After a defeat in 1986, in 1992, Crist won a seat in the Florida Senate. For six years in the Senate, he served as Chairman of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee and as Chairman of the Appropriations Criminal Justice Subcommittee. A strong voice for public safety, he sponsored, among other legislation, the Stop Turning Out Prisoners (STOP) bill requiring prisoners to serve at least 85% of their prison sentences.
After Crist completed his Senate service, Republican Governor Jeb Bush appointed him as Deputy Secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Crist challenged Democratic Senator Bob Graham in 1998, losing 38%-62%.
Commissioner of Education
In 2000, Governor Crist won a special election and became Florida’s last elected Commissioner of Education. The position became a political appointment in 2003 due to a 1998 constitutional amendment.
He was elected Attorney General in 2002. He carried the general election by more than one-third of a million votes to become Florida’s first elected Republican Attorney General.
On November 7, 2006, Charlie Crist was elected to serve as Florida’s governor. He held conservative positions on social issues, such as broadening the use of capital punishment, and he also signed legislation that allows employees, customers and those invited to a business establishment to keep guns locked in their motor vehicles, provided they had a concealed weapons license — a policy that liberal critics dubbed "bring your gun to work day." He also initially supported a ban on gay adoption, but stated he had "evolved" on the issue and supported a 2008 Miami-Dade County court's ruling declaring the ban was unconstitutional.
On economics however, his actions alienated conservatives. Crist supported President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package. With a $2.4 billion state deficit, Crist vetoed Republican proposals to cut $365 million from the budget. In December of 2008, when the state economy was plunging, Governor Crist took a 12 day trip to Europe with his fiancée that cost taxpayers $430,000. Crist defended it as a trip to promote free trade.
Although Crist opposed offshore oil drilling during his gubernatorial campaign, he changed his position, saying "I mean, let's face it, the price of gas has gone through the roof, and Florida families are suffering, and my heart bleeds for them."
Crist's style is folksy, and he searched for bipartisanship during his governorship. His handling of the great hurricanes of 2005-6 was widely praised. He appointed one moderate and two conservatives to the state supreme court. His support for John McCain in 2008 helped carry the state primary and defeat Mitt Romney.
In 2008, Crist was vetted as a possible Republican Vice Presidential candidate. In 2010, Crist entered the Republican primary for United States Senate against Marco Rubio. Crist dropped out and ran in the general election as an Independent. He lost to Rubio.
Crist joined the Democratic Party in December 2012. In 2014, Crist is seeking another term as Governor, running as a Democratic candidate. During the campaign, Crist made incorrect statements about Governor Rick Scott cutting Florida's education budget. When critics uncovered Crist's inaccurate statements, Crist's campaign manager, Dan Gelber sent out an email to all of Crist's supporters on April 2, 2014, entitled, "Talk about egg on our face." Crist's failure to properly vet his facts will hurt his campaign. He launched a Spanish website to reinforce the message "Charlie Crist tiene huevo en la cara" to the 20% of Florida voters that speak Spanish.
Crist wrote a political memoir entitled The Party’s Over: How the Extreme Right Hijacked the GOP and I Became a Democrat.
Crist was married to Amanda Morrow in 1979; the marriage soon ended. He married Carole Rome on December 12, 2008 in St. Petersburg, Florida, after becoming engaged in July.
As of January 7, 2011, Crist is employed by the law firm of Morgan & Morgan. School officials with Stetson Univerity in DeLand, Florida have stated he might work part-time there as a instructor at the law school.
- Florida Gov. Charlie Crist biography
- Issues2000 Governor Charlie Crist
- Florida lawmakers pass "bring your gun to work" law
- Crist: I've had 'appropriate' evolution on gay rights
- Ball, Molly. "Is This What Post-Partisanship Looks Like?", The Atlantic, March 11, 2014. Retrieved on April 13, 2014.
- Crist joins Morgan & Morgan