Florida Gov. Charlie Crist Announces Senate Run as Independent

Florida Governor quits the GOP in Senate bid.

ByABC News
April 29, 2010, 7:07 AM

WASHINGTON, April 29, 2010— -- Surrounded by cheering supporters, Florida Governor Charlie Crist announced today at a press conference he was dropping out of the Florida Republican Senate primary race to run as an independent.

"My decision to run for the United States Senate as a candidate without party affiliation in many ways says more about our nation and our state, than it does about me," Crist announced.

"For me it's never been about doing what's easy," he said today, "it's about doing what is right for the people first."

"Unfortunately our our political system is broken," he said. "I haven't supported an idea because it's a Republican idea or it's a Democratic idea, I support ideas that I believe are good ideas for the people."

The primary is not until Aug. 24, but polls showed Crist badly trailing former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, a Tea Party favorite.

Republican Senate leaders immediately slammed his decision, demanding Crist return money they donated to his campaign.

"Elections are about trust and frankly, it is unclear whether Governor Crist deserves any," said a joint statement from the National Republican Senatorial Committee. "We plan to put our resources and support behind Marco Rubio."

Crist's pollsters, the Republican polling firm of Public Opinion Strategies, announced today that it is resigning from his campaign.

"Governor Crist's decision has been ceaselessly speculated on in recent weeks. Despite his difficulties in the Republican primary, we were loyally working for him as long as he was a Republican. With his announcement that he is not running as a Republican, we will no longer be involved," said Glen Bolger, a partner in the firm who worked with the Crist campaign.

Many question whether Crist's switch is a warning sign for moderate Republicans across the country running for reelection this year.