Washington: Former Florida Governor, Charlie Crist, who was elected the state`s chief executive as a Republican and then ran unsuccessfully for the US Senate as an independent, has announced on Twitter that he will switch to the Democratic Party.
"Proud and honoured to join the Democratic Party in the home of President (at) Barack Obama!" New York Daily News quoted 56-year-old Crist, as tweeting.
He cited the Republican Party`s shift to the right on a range of issues, including immigration, education and the environment. Crist was elected Florida governor in 2006 while in the GOP. As he moved to run for the US Senate in 2010, he faced a tough primary challenge from the right and bolted the GOP to run as an independent.
He lost a three-way Senate contest in 2010 to Republican Marco Rubio. Crist`s decision to switch to a Democrat will increase speculation that he intends to challenge Republican Governor Rick Scott.
Crist has already criticized Scott for refusing to extend early voting despite pleas from US Sen Bill Nelson and other Democrats, the paper said. 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.
"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 DC as a senator, especially after he proved he couldn`t do the job as governor," the Florida GOP said in a statement.