Tallahassee, Fla. – Former Republican governor-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist took the first step Friday toward attempting to reclaim his old job with a new party, paving the way for a bitter contest that will be one of the most watched in the nation.
Crist filed paperwork to get in the race and is now the front-runner to represent Democrats against Republican Gov. Rick Scott, one of the most unpopular chief executives in the country. Scott, though, will be well-financed and is expected to spend as much as $25 million in attack ads against Crist.
For Crist, he is hoping to revive a political career that seemingly crashed when he left the GOP and lost an independent run for U.S. Senate to Republican Marco Rubio in 2010.
There was little doubt he was getting into the race. He has been preparing a team of advisers and has set up a website for the potential campaign. His addresses to Democratic groups have increasingly sounded like campaign speeches.
Premature births decrease in U.S.
The rate of premature births dropped slightly in the United States last year, but the country still has a way to go before reaching the March of Dimes’ goal of only 9.6 percent of babies born prematurely.
Preliminary figures for 2012 show that 11.5 percent of births in the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico occurred before pregnancies reached 37 weeks of gestation. That’s a 15-year low and the sixth consecutive year of decline, according to the March of Dimes.
The nonprofit organization, which focuses on pregnancy and baby health, estimates that about 176,000 fewer babies have been born premature since 2006, when the rate of preterm births peaked at 12.8 percent nationwide. That translates to a savings of roughly $9 billion in health and other costs, the group said.
However, March of Dimes President Jennifer Howse noted in a statement that “the U.S. still has the highest rate of preterm birth of any industrialized country.”