TALLAHASSEE, Florida — Former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist won the Democratic primary to challenge Republican Gov. Rick Scott, marking another step in an unlikely political comeback four years after leaving the Republican Party.
Crist on Aug. 26 defeated Nan Rich, a former Senate Democratic leader who has been campaigning for Governor longer than Crist has been a Democrat.
He is the first person in Florida to win the nomination for governor as a Republican and a Democrat. With 39 percent of the precincts counted, Crist had 75 percent to 25 percent for Rich.
Crist, 58, was once considered a potential running mate for 2008 Republican Presidential nominee John McCain. He also had the backing of Republican leaders in a 2010 bid for the U.S. 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.
After campaigning for Obama in 2012, Crist completed his political transition to Democrat later that year.
Crist now faces Scott and Libertarian Adrian Wyllie in a race that’s already been highly negative. Scott has already spent millions of dollars in ads attacking Scott for political flip-flops and for supporting Obama’s health care overhaul.
Crist was also focused on Scott leading up to the primary, reminding voters that Scott is a former hospital chain CEO who ran a company that paid a $1.7 billion settlement for Medicaid fraud.
In Arizona, State Treasurer Doug Ducey won the Republican Gubernatorial primary in the race to replace Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, riding to victory with a campaign that focused on his blend of government and business experience in serving as a state official and building an ice cream company into a national brand.
The race began as a fairly quiet contest focused on health care and jobs before shifting abruptly when thousands of immigrant children began pouring into the country and some settled in the state.
In the quest for right-leaning Republican primary voters, the six candidates quickly staked out hard-line positions on immigration and repeatedly attacked the Obama Administration for failing to secure the border.