Charlie Crist signs papers to become Democrat -- at the White House
Times Political Editor Adam C. Smith with the breaking news:
It was just a matter of time. Charlie Crist is becoming a Democrat.
Crist — Florida's former Republican governor who relished the tough-on-crime nickname "Chain Gang Charlie" and used to describe himself variously as a "Ronald Reagan Republican" and a "Jeb Bush Republican" — on Friday evening signed papers changing his party from independent to Democrat.
He did so during a Christmas reception at the White House, where President Obama greeted the news with a fist bump for the man who had a higher profile campaigning for Obama's reelection this year than any Florida Democrat.
The widely expected move positions Crist, 56, for another highly anticipated next step: announcing his candidacy for governor, taking on Republican incumbent Gov. Rick Scott and an untold number of Democrats who would challenge him for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
"I've had friends for years tell me, 'You know Charlie, you're a Democrat and you don't know it,'" Crist, a career-long populist, recounted Friday night from Washington, D.C.
And there's the photo Crist tweeted tonight with: Proud and honored to join the Democratic Party in the home of President @BarackObama!