FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) -- Former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist has won the Democratic nomination to seek his old job with his new party.
The victory Tuesday is another step in Crist's attempt at a political comeback. He will now face Republican Gov. Rick Scott.
Early returns showed Crist with 75 percent of the vote, with 35 percent of precincts reporting.
Crist beat Nan Rich, the former Senate Democratic leader who has been campaigning for governor longer than Crist has been a Democrat.
Crist left the GOP in 2010 when he ran as an independent for the Senate seat won by Republican Marco Rubio.
Crist used to call himself a Ronald Reagan Republican, but he increasingly aligned himself with Democrats after the Senate campaign.
He campaigned for President Barack Obama in 2012 and registered as a Democrat after the election.
Scott, 72, who had minor primary opposition, already anticipated that Crist would be his opponent. He's spent millions of dollars on ads criticizing Crist and pointing out how he has changed from opposing to supporting same-sex marriage, gun control and Obama's health care plan.
A Crist vs. Scott general election matchup would be sure to feature a high-profile debate over Obama's health care overhaul. Pressured by Republican legislators, Scott abandoned an initial call to expand Medicaid under the Democratic law. Crist has blasted the decision and, unlike many Democrats on the ballot this year, is an unapologetic cheerleader for the Affordable Care Act.
Governor Rick Scott made the following statement regarding tonight’s primary election results:
“The next few months are about talk versus action. That means Florida will have a choice between a governor who sent our state into a tailspin and a governor who gets results. Charlie Crist failed as governor, lost 830,000 jobs, and tried to run off to Washington – and now he wants his job back. We’ve come a long way in the last few years, but there’s plenty of work left to do. Let’s keep working."