Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist will make a “major announcement” next Tuesday morning in St. Petersburg, with speculation focusing around the likelihood that he will announce his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Congress in Florida’s 13th District, which encompasses much of Pinellas County.
Details were sparse in the announcement sent out by PR consultant Kevin Cate, who worked on Crist’s 2014 unsuccessful run for governor. More information will come forward on Monday, Cate wrote in his statement.
The 13th District is currently occupied by Republican David Jolly, who has already announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate next year, leaving the seat open.
One factor in Jolly’s decision to leave the seat — a seat he worked so hard to win in 2014 in a special election following the death of longtime U.S. Rep. Bill Young — is the fact that the district’s demographics are expected to radically change. The Florida Supreme Court’s recent ruling on redistricting is expected to move the district’s borders, thus changing it from being a swing seat that narrowly favors Republicans into a very pro-Democratic seat.
Crist will have competition for the nomination.
Former Department of Defense official and St. Pete native Eric Lynn has been running for the office for months, before Jolly announced that he will not be a candidate. Lynn has raised over $550,000 since declaring his candidacy back in April.
Crist had not indicated any interest in running for Congress until the Florida Supreme Court ruled back in July that eight of the state’s 27 congressional districts had been drawn up in violation of the state’s Constitution. A new proposed congressional map that still needs to be approved by the court would no longer allow Kathy Castor’s CD 14 seat to cross Tampa Bay into South St. Petersburg, where a trove of Democratic-leaning voters reside. The inclusion of that new area in CD 13 would make the seat much more Democratic-leaning.
So far, no Republican has announced as a candidate for the seat.