Crist wins Florida Democratic governor primary, will now challenge DeSantis

Crist, a Democrat House member, previously served one term as Florida's governor while a Republican

Updated: August 23, 2022 - 10:51pm

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Rep. Charlie Crist claimed victory in Florida's Democratic gubernatorial primary Tuesday night and will challenge Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in November.

The now-Democratic nominee won with 60.2% of the vote, according to the Associated Press.

While DeSantis ran unopposed, Crist, a former Florida governor, faced off against Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried for the Democratic nomination. Also running for the Democratic nomination were Cadance Daniel and Robert Willis.

Crist served one term as Florida's governor while a Republican. He then lost the party primary for the state's Senate race in 2010 but ran nonetheless as an independent. He again ran for governor as a Democrat in 2014 but lost to now-Sen. Rick Scott, a Republican. In 2016, he was elected to Congress as a Democrat.

In other Florida primaries, Air Force veteran Anna Luna, who was endorsed by former President Trump, defeated Kevin Hayslett in the Republican primary in the state's 13th Congressional District. And GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz, another Trump-backed candidate, easily won his primary in the state's 1st district. 

Crist faces an uphill battle against DeSantis. The governor has made national headlines for signing a string of conservative agenda items ranging from patriotic education to restrictions on LGBT instruction, to abortion restriction. He has further maintained an adamantly anti-lockdown policy in the state throughout the pandemic.

Florida has increasingly trended toward the GOP in recent years. President Donald Trump narrowly claimed the state's electoral votes in 2016, but expanded significantly on his margin in 2020. DeSantis won elected office in 2018, a midterm year that trended nationally in favor of Democrats.

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