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Republican Reaction Fast And Furious Following Crist Campaign Announcement

Charlie Crist

Former Republican Florida Governor Charlie Crist kicked off his campaign to run for governor again in 2014, this time as a Democrat, at an event Monday morning near his St. Petersburg home.

Reaction to the much anticipated announcement Republican officials poured in following the event, with at least one sitting GOP state legislator noting his complete disrespect for Crist.

"In four years Charlie Crist switched three times the core principles he said he would be faithful to — Republican then Independent now Democrat," said Republican State Senate President Don Gaetz in a statement. 

"I respect, even honor opponents who stand by their principles. I cannot respect an opponent who has no principles and therefore no honor," Gaetz continued.

"Throughout his career, Charlie Crist has only been interested in one person — himself," said Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry in a statement.

State Republicans launched a website focusing on what they described as "Crist's failures as governor" under the address

The site currently features an advertisement quoting the criticisms of several Democratic officials for Crist, including former Vice President Al Gore.

"If Charlie Crist wants to be Governor so bad again, why did he leave Florida in our time of great need?" asked Republican Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford in a statement, referring to Crist's independent 2010 U.S. Senate campaign, which he lost to Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

"Floridians have a clear choice between a governor with a proven record of job creation, and a consummate political opportunist that can't be trusted," said Rubio in a statement. 

"Charlie Crist's governorship was underwhelming to say the least," he said, adding that Republican Gov. Rick Scott has been successfully "cleaning up after Charlie's mess."

Whether voters prefer Scott to Crist is yet to be seen; an Oct. 10 poll by the Public Opinion Research Laboratory at the University of North Florida showed Crist with a narrow five-point lead over Scott.

Former State Senator Nan Rich is also seeking the Democratic nomination.

You can follow Patrick on Twitter @patrickhdonges.

Patrick Donges served as WJCT's Digital Content Editor from August 2013 - August 2014.