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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis rival Charlie Crist resigns from Congress

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Charlie Crist, Democratic gubernatorial candidate for Florida, speaks during a primary night party in Saint Petersburg, Florida, on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022.

Thomas Wheelock | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist announced Wednesday he’ll resign from Congress as he campaigns to unseat Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in November.

The move will shrink Democrats’ already-slim majority within the House, potentially complicating efforts to pass more laws before the midterm elections when Republicans are currently favored to take control.

Serving in Congress “has been an honor and a privilege,” Crist said in a press release, which didn’t mention his campaign for governor. “From the underside of my heart, thanks for trusting me as your Representative in Washington.”

Crist will step down by the close of business Wednesday, he said within the statement. Congressional staff for Crist’s district will provide casework and constituent services until the following representatives are sworn in in January, the statement said.

Florida’s thirteenth Congressional District, where Crist has served since 2017, is taken into account a probable pickup for Republicans this November, in line with the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. The district’s political makeup shifted toward the GOP after a latest congressional map, proposed by DeSantis, re-shaped the realm.

Crist handily won the Democratic nomination for Florida’s gubernatorial race. But polls show him trailing DeSantis, a dominant figure within the GOP who’s widely rumored to be gearing up for a 2024 presidential run.

DeSantis has also far outraised Crist: The powerful Republican incumbent governor’s campaign has raised greater than $165 million since 2019, OpenSecrets reported earlier this month.

DeSantis’ stature within the party is exceeded perhaps only by former President Donald Trump, who has usually teased the potential of launching one other White House bid.

Crist’s move mirrors DeSantis’ decision in 2018 to resign from Congress as he campaigned for governor in a hotly contested race against Democrat Andrew Gillum. DeSantis on the time said that he didn’t need to be criticized for taking a U.S. representative’s paycheck while missing votes.

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