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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Crist makes bolt from GOP official

Florida Governor Charlie Crist, who is running for U.S. Senate as an independent, prepares the paperwork to change his voter registration to no party affiliation at the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections, 501 1st Ave N in St. Petersburg Wednesday afternoon. TIMES PHOTO DIRK SHADD 

Gov. Charlie Crist left the Republican Party at 3:40 p.m. Wednesday.

Crist changed his party registration at a Pinellas Supervisor of Elections Office in St. Petersburg. The entire process took less than five minutes. When asked for party affiliation on a voter registration form, Crist checked "None."

After he signed his name, making the party switch official, Crist looked up, smiled and said, "let freedom ring."

"Well it's very liberating," Crist told reporters afterward. "I'm pleased to do it and frankly the reason is if you're going to run as an independent, you ought to be an independent. It was a no brainer."

Crist also said he would not return money to GOP donors who have asked for it back.

"People gave to a good cause and we're going to spend it on a good cause," Crist said. "That's why I'm going to keep it. It's important to be able to get our message out and communicate with the people of Florida."

More from Crist

Q: If elected, who will you caucus with?

Crist: "I'll caucus with the people of Florida. And anybody that will help the people of Florida."

Q: Reaction to Tampa getting the 2012 GOP convention.

Crist: "That's great for economic opportunity. Mhat's great for jobs. I want to applaud Mayor Pam Iorio, a good Democrat, and Charlie Crist - I hope a good independent - and Republicans on making this smart decision on coming to Florida. It helps our economy. It's a great boost to not only Tampa Bay, but frankly the whole state. It'll yet again put a spotlight on the prettiest state on the planet."

Q: Will you be involved?

Crist: "As much as I can, sure. Whether it was a Republican convention or a Democratic convention it wouldn't matter to me. As a Floridian, I'm proud it's in our state."

Q: Did the GOP leave you or did you leave the GOP?

Crist: "Maybe some of it left me. Obviously some in the primary sector of the party. But that's OK."

Q: Reaction to the Crist painting selling on Ebay and the RPOF referring to Crist's "sordid" legacy.

Crist: "I think it just makes my point that partisan politics has gotten to a point that it turns people off and it really bothers them ... It makes my point when they go low."

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 10:37am]


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