TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist submitted his resignation from Congress on Wednesday to focus on his gubernatorial campaign against Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Crist said in a phone interview Wednesday that his resignation would be effective at the end of the day. He noted that he spoke with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi before making the decision.
“She said, ‘I understand, but it looks like we’re in good shape, so you need to do what you need to do and you need to win this election. It’s very important and you don’t have a lot of time,'” Crist said.
Crist served as Republican governor of Florida from 2007 to 2011. He later switched parties, challenging and losing to Republican Gov. Rick Scott in 2014. He was elected to the St. Petersburg-area congressional seat in 2016.
“I’m going to work hard, get all over the state and win this thing. That’s the plan,” Crist said. “I’ve loved representing my home town and my home county. They’re wonderful people and I look forward to the race ahead and representing them in the governor’s office.”
Crist won the Democratic nomination for governor last week and has named United Teachers of Dade President Karla Hernandez as his pick for lieutenant governor.
DeSantis also stepped down from Congress early after winning the Republican nomination in 2018.
Crist appended his resignation announcement with a pitch to voters this fall.
“The choice is crystal clear here. If you want a women’s right to choose to be protected, you vote for Charlie Crist; if you want to make sure your vote counts, particularly for African-Americans, you vote for Charlie Crist; if you want the education system to get the support it deserves, you vote for Charlie Crist,” he said.
Republican Anna Paulina Luna will face Democrat Eric Lynn, who worked in President Barack Obama’s administration, for Crist’s vacant seat in November.