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Crist seeks nomination as Democrat after lifetime in GOP

Tuesday, August 26, 2014
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A campaign supporter displays a sign as former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist makes a campaign stop Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014, in North Miami, Fla., as Crist tries to get his old job back as a Democrat.J Pat Carter, AP

A campaign supporter displays a sign as former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist makes a campaign stop Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014, in North Miami, Fla., as Crist tries to get his old job back as a Democrat.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Florida Democrats appeared poised Tuesday to select former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist as their nominee to challenge Republican Gov. Rick Scott in a nationally watched race that’s part of an unlikely political comeback for Crist.

Turnout was expected to be light as the campaign between Crist and former state Sen. Nan Rich had not garnered much attention as Rich didn’t have the financial resources to purchase extensive TV commercials.

Crist has won three statewide races as a Republican and it wasn’t that long ago that he called himself a Ronald Reagan/Jeb Bush Republican. He was once considered a potential running mate for 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain and he had the backing of GOP leaders in a 2010 bid for Senate — until Marco Rubio used an image of Crist hugging President Barack Obama to chase Crist from the primary.

Crist lost an independent bid for the seat Rubio now holds.

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When he ran for governor eight years ago as a Republican, Crist opposed same-sex marriage. In 2010, when he ran for U.S. Senate as an independent, he declared his support for civil unions. Now, running for his old job as a Democrat, Crist has apologized for supporting the ban, says he now backs same-sex marriage and supports legal efforts to overturn Florida’s constitutional ban.

He has also pledged to sign orders banning discrimination against gay and transgender employees at agencies under his control and their contractors.

Florida has been a battleground for marriage equality, with four state and one federal judge striking down the state’s same-sex marriage ban. All rulings are on hold pending appeal.

Crist has been endorsed by Equality Florida, the state’s largest LGBT rights advocacy organization.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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