Rep. Charlie Crist resigned from his House seat on Wednesday, giving Democrats an even narrower majority than the party already has in the lower chamber.
Mr. Crist, the Democratic nominee for Florida governor, made his announcement as he heads into the homestretch of the campaign season to oust GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis in November.
The lawmaker told the Tampa Bay Times it was “an honor and a privilege” to serve his constituents in Florida’s 13th District, which includes Clearwater and St. Petersburg.
Mr. Crist did not specify in his statement his reason for the early departure but issued a tweet indicating the stakes of the gubernatorial election.
“Democracy is under attack every day with Ron DeSantis as governor,” Mr. Crist said.
Mr. Crist, a member of the centrist Blue Dog Coalition in Congress, previously served as Florida governor from 2007 to 2011.
SEE ALSO: Democrats see Florida governor’s race as critical chance to stop DeSantis from reaching White House
Polls, however, indicate that the Democrat still trails Mr. DeSantis, who is widely popular in conservative circles. An August match-up from the University of North Florida had Mr. DeSantis with 50% support compared to Mr. Crist with 42%.
But, Mr. Crist’s resignation will also further diminish the slight advantage Democrats have with their razor-thin House majority weeks before the House will return to take up a series of funding bills.
After Mr. Crist’s exit, the House will have 219 Democrats, 211 Republicans and five vacancies.
Rep. Ted Deutch, Florida Democrat, will also officially resign his seat in October to become the chief executive officer of the American Jewish Committee.
In total, more than 30 House Democrats have announced retirements from their seats this year, including several members who would’ve been vulnerable against Republicans if they ran for reelection.
With less than three months until the midterms, Democrats are hoping for an eleventh-hour momentum while they still hold power in Congress.
Republicans need a net gain of just five seats to retake the lower chamber. The House GOP campaign arm is targeting more than 70 Democrats.
Mr. Crist’s seat is considered a pickup opportunity for Republicans this cycle, as the district was redrawn to lean more red.
Air Force veteran Anna Paulina Luna, the GOP candidate endorsed by former President Donald Trump, will face Democrat Eric Lynn, a former aide who served under the Obama administration. The race is rated by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report as “likely Republican.”
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