House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was already dealing with a razor-thin majority on Capitol Hill ahead of an uphill battle to maintain control in the lower chamber after next year’s midterm elections, but her task just became more difficult.
According to reports, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL) announced this week that he will be leaving Congress to campaign against Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in next year’s gubernatorial race.
“That’s why I’m running for Governor”
The news means Pelosi will now need to find a suitable replacement on a fairly short timeline.
Crist’s political ambitions had been the subject of some speculation among pundits, but he made it official in a tweet on Tuesday.
Florida should be a place where hard work is rewarded, justice is equal, and opportunity is right in front of you. That’s a Florida for all — and that’s why I’m running for Governor.
— Charlie Crist (@CharlieCrist) May 4, 2021
He previously served one term as Florida’s governor, having been elected in 2006 as a Republican.
If successful in his bid to unseat DeSantis, Crist would enter an exclusive club of just three other politicians who have won the governorship of their respective home states as a member of both major parties.
More bad news for Pelosi
Of course, the Republican-turned-Democrat faces a monumental challenge in launching a bid against the current governor, who has enjoyed a steady rise in approval ratings and overall popularity in large part due to his response to the state’s COVID-19 pandemic.
Furthermore, Florida has not elected a Democratic governor since Lawton Chiles defeated Jeb Bush in 1994. The state also has a long history of sticking with an incumbent governor dating back to 1990.
The bad news for Pelosi came on the heels of a similar announcement by Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL), who confirmed that she will not be seeking another term in Congress next year. Her seat is particularly vulnerable given the fact that former President Donald Trump won in her district in both 2016 and 2020.
Illinois was also among the states that lost a congressional seat due to a declining population, as revealed in recently released census data.
Democrats are left to face a growing list of either confirmed or rumored retirements in the House, meaning the speaker’s prospects of holding on to a narrow majority are looking more tenuous by the day.