Report: Crist will run as an Independent

Gov. Charlie Crist (R) will run as an Independent in the Florida Senate race, sources tell Fox News. He'll make the announcement at a press conference Thursday at Straub Park in downtown St. Petersburg.

An Independent bid would allow Crist to avoid what was predicted to be a humiliating defeat at the hands of former state House Speaker Marco Rubio in the GOP primary.

The three-way race would pit Crist and Rubio against Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.). The winner could be elected with as little as 34 percent of the vote.

The Rubio camp hasn't issued an official comment about Crist's Independent run. But spokesman Alex Burgos said in a statement that "voters deserve better than calculating politicians who put career survival ahead of advancing ideas and principles they believe in."

He added, "There's really no choice Charlie Crist will make tomorrow that will ever mask his support for a reckless agenda of the failed Crist-Meek-Obama stimulus, higher taxes and soaring debt."

Meek has said he likes his chances in a three-way race.

"The governor makes a decision that he's going to run as an Independent — automatically, I become a factor in this race," the four-term congressman told CNN's John King in a recent interview. "There will no longer be debates with just the two of them. I would be invited as another major candidate in the race."

(Updated at 1:08 p.m.)