Crist enters the race as the apparent front-runner. In most recent polls, Crist was substantially ahead of Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher and Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings, who are considered likely contenders for the Republican nomination. Crist also polls several points ahead of the likely Democratic candidates.
Last year, Crist took the unusual step of endorsing Mel Martinez for the U.S. Senate and young Connie Mack for the U.S. House of Representatives in Republican primaries, a step most state officials avoid. Martinez and Mack won their races and are likely to support Crist in 2006.
As chairman of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee, Crist took on then-Gov. Lawton Chiles in an investigation of thousands of scare calls made to senior citizens just days before the 1994 election, in which Chiles defeated [Jeb Bush].