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It's Official: Charlie Crist's Running for Congress

Steve Newborn
Charlie Crist with a young supporter before his announcment in Childs Park. His wife Carole, is on the left

He's back!  Or hopes to be, at least.

In one of the worst-kept secrets in politics, Charlie Crist officially entered the race for Congress, in a soon-to-be-newly-configured district that should include his hometown of St. Petersburg.

Crist kicked off his round of announcements Tuesday morning at Childs Park in St. Petersburg.

"We have a problem in Washington," he said. "There's no question about it. Washington does not listen to the people. Unfortunately, Washington bickers with itself. All they do is argue all day long. They can't even pick a House speaker right now. It is a dysfunctional body, unfortunately. And we need change. And the real problem with Washington is that they fail to listen. They fail to listen to the people. I have always tried to listen to the people."

He followed that with appearances at  War Veterans' Memorial Park at Bay Pines; and Pier 60 in Clearwater.

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"Public service is in my heart. I can't help it. I guess that's fairly obvious," Crist said. "But somebody has got to step up. And somebody has got to lead. And Pinellas County deserves a megaphone in the nation's capital. This is home. And this is one of the reasons I'm so grateful to be here today. And to run for Congress in my hometown of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County is very important and personal to me."

His entry is courtesy of the redistricting made possible by the recent passage of the Fair Districts Amendment by state voters. Even though the re-do of the map isn't complete yet, odds are District 13 will be extended south to include St. Petersburg. The incumbent, Republican David Jolly, has decided to run for U.S. Senate.

Credit Steve Newborn / WUSF News
Back in the game

Crist served as governor from 2007 until 2011 but decided to run for Senate in 2010 instead of seeking a second term. He dropped out of the Republican primary and ran as an independent after falling behind to eventual winner Marco Rubio.

Crist later registered as a Democrat and challenged Republican Gov. Rick Scott last year, losing in a close election after Scott pumped almost $13 million of his own money into his campaign in the final week.

When asked why he should expect a different outcome this time than the last two times he ran for office, he said:

"I've run a fair amount of races. And I've won some, and I've lost some. And I think you learn more from the losses than you do from the victories. And what I have learned is you have to listen as hard as you can. And go out and talk to people as much as you possibly can. They're the boss. And that's what I'm going to do in this campaign and I really look forward to it."


Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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