Charlie Crist, attempting to return as governor as a Democrat, announced Monday evening that a high-profile member of President Barack Obama's political team is joining his campaign.
Jim Messina, who managed Obama's 2012 re-election effort, is on board, Crist said on Twitter.
Messina's role will be as an adviser and strategist. He will not be the campaign manager, a position Crist has yet to fill after his first manager, Bill Hyers, left before he officially starting.
Messina adds to the ties between Obama and Crist, whose 2010 campaign for U.S. Senate was derailed in part because he embraced Obama's stimulus plan while he was then Republican governor. Marco Rubio seized on the image of Crist hugging Obama at a rally in Fort Myers in 2009 and rode the anti-Obama sentiment into office.
Crist tried to run against Rubio as an independent but lost in a three-way race with Democrat Kendrick Meek. Crist became a Democrat while at a White House holiday party in December 2012.
Now, even as Obama's popularity has waned since his re-election, Crist sees an upside in his team, which helped re-write the rules of campaigns with a savvy online presence and ground game.
In addition to Messina, Crist will be assisted by Teddy Goff, who ran the digital side of Obama's re-election campaign. Steve Schale, an Obama adviser in Florida, is also on board.
Gov. Rick Scott, who has a sizeable fundraising advantage over Crist, began to fill out his re-election team last week, announcing that his spokeswoman, Melissa Sellers, would serve as campaign manager.