Crist wins Dem nod for Florida governor

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Republican-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist won his party’s nomination Tuesday night to take on Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), setting up a fierce battle over the swing state this fall.

Crist took 75 percent of the vote to former Florida Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich’s 25 percent of the vote, when The Associated Press called the race, with 40 percent of precincts reporting.

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The sizable margin should quell any lingering doubts among Democrats that Crist, a former Republican governor who abandoned his party after then-candidate Marco Rubio surged ahead of him in 2010 Republican Senate primary race, hasn’t captured the enthusiasm of their party.

Crist officially became a Democrat in 2012 after endorsing President Obama's reelection campaign, and he’s a rare Democrat in a swing state who has said he’d like the president to campaign with him.

Enthusiasm will be critical, as Crist heads into his general election fight with Scott, a top target for Democrats due to his persistently low popularity ratings. The most recent survey of the race, conducted earlier this month, gave Scott just a 3-point lead on Crist.

In anticipation of that battle, Scott began training his fire on Crist long before his primary win, spending an estimated $8 million-11 million in attacks aimed at tagging him as a flip-flopper.

But Crist is a formidable fundraiser as well and has already raised $6.4 million, and will have the full resources of the Democratic Governors Association behind him, as Democrats look to put down a win in a state that could reverberate into their 2016 chances as well.

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