Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.) announced that effective at the end of the day on Aug. 31, he will resign from the U.S. House in preparation for his gubernatorial bid against Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Crist won the Democrat nomination for the seat by double-digit margins in an Aug. 23 primary, beating out a field of three other contenders.
Now, around a week after that primary election, Crist has announced that he will leave the House before his term is up to prepare for the general election in November.
In a statement to the Tampa Bay Times, Crist called his time in Congress “an honor and a privilege.”
“These achievements start and end with you, the people—my bosses—who have guided my work in Congress since Day One,” he added.
Though he is now a Democrat, Crist did not begin his career that way.
From 1993 to 1999, Crist served in the Florida State Senate. Crist made his first effort to enter the national stage in a bid for the GOP nomination to the U.S. Senate in 1998, but that effort was unsuccessful.
After this defeat, Crist turned his eyes back toward Florida state politics, serving as attorney general from 2003 to 2007 before being sworn in as governor of the state in 2007. Because he has already served one term as governor, Crist will not be eligible for reelection to the post in 2026 if he wins the race.
Before his first term as governor ended, Crist mounted another bid for the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate in 2010. Despite early leads, he was ultimately defeated by then-candidate Marco Rubio. In preparation for the race, Crist did not seek reelection to the governor’s mansion, paving the way for Rick Scott to mount a successful bid for the office.
In April 2010, Crist officially left the Republican Party, identifying himself as an independent. In 2012, he switched party affiliation again and became a Democrat, endorsing President Barack Obama’s reelection bid.
In 2014, Crist challenged Rick Scott for the governorship but lost the race.
In 2016, Crist finally managed to break onto the national stage, being elected as a U.S. representative for Florida’s 13th congressional district.
Now, Crist faces a tough battle to once again try to take back the Florida governor’s mansion from Ron DeSantis, whose policies on issues like election security, critical race theory, and sexual education in elementary school classrooms have long been anathema to Democrats.
According to polling averages compiled by FiveThirtyEight, the race is shaping up to be a tough one for Crist.
Despite Democrats’ unhappiness with DeSantis, polls suggest that Floridians prefer him. As of Aug. 28, DeSantis was leading Crist 49.1 percent to 42.7 percent.
Crist’s decision to retire earlier further shrinks Democrats’ slim hold on the lower chamber, narrowing the party’s control of the House from four seats to three.
Amid continuous infighting between progressive and moderate Democrats during the 117th Congress, Crist’s retirement could cause headaches for Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) if she hopes to consider any other wide-reaching policies before the 118th Congress begins.
Though the U.S. Senate remains highly contested, many observers expect Republicans to make substantial gains this year, and many projections suggest that the GOP will return to the House majority after four years in the minority.