Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican-turned-Democrat and perennial political candidate, is projected to win the race for Florida’s 13th Congressional District and defeat incumbent Republican Rep. David Jolly.
Crist received 52 percent of the vote, compared to Jolly’s 48 percent, with 99 percent of precincts reporting.
Crist’s victory on Tuesday was widely expected, thanks to a Florida Supreme Court-ordered redistricting last year that made the district, which includes most of St. Petersburg, friendly territory for Democrats.
His win is welcome news to Democrats looking to translate Donald Trump’s controversial candidacy into gains in the House and the Senate.
The win also marks a significant comeback for Crist, whose propensity for failed political runs had become something of a punchline in recent years. Crist ran for Senate in 2010 while serving as the Sunshine State’s Republican governor. Facing likely defeat to Marco Rubio in the Republican primary, largely due to the warm reception he once gave President Barack Obama, Crist ran as an independent ― and still lost by a big margin.
Crist alluded to his recent electoral defeats in a victory speech on Tuesday night, thanking God for helping him win.
“I’ve run a lot of races. And it’s been kind of tough, the past couple,” he said. “But God is good all the time and I want to thank Him from the bottom of my heart.”