[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/05/02/art.cristsigns0502.gi.jpg caption="Gov. Crist was surrounded by supporters last week as he announced that he will skip the Republican Senate primary and run as an unaffiliated candidate in November's election."]
(CNN) – Florida Gov. Charlie Crist told the National Review Online that he is much happier now that he has decided to skip the Republican primary as he campaigns to become the state’s next senator. In a separate interview broadcast Sunday, Crist left open the possibility that he would align himself with Democrats in the Senate, if elected in November.
Crist credited Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Connecticut, for helping him make his recent decision to skip the GOP Senate primary in Florida and, instead, run as a non-party-affiliated candidate in the midterm election.
Lieberman, who lost the Democratic primary in 2006 but went on to win re-election as a self-described independent Democrat, told Crist that his unaffiliated candidacy was “liberating,” the Florida governor said in an interview with the National Review.
“'He was right. I’m much happier now, to be perfectly candid,’” Crist said to the conservative publication.
Crist, who appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, would not rule out following in Lieberman’s footsteps and joining with Senate Democrats for organizing purposes.
“I’ll caucus with the people of Florida,” Crist said when asked whether he would caucus with Republicans if elected to the Senate.
Pressed on the issue, Crist added, “Well, when I'm independent, I'm going to do what I think is in the best interests of my people. And that's my decision. And that's what I'm going to do for Floridians. And that's what people want.”
In a similar vein, Crist said that he might also vote for a Democrat as Senate majority leader.
“I might not vote for either [a Democrat or a Republican]. You know, I'm going to vote for who I think would be best for the people of Florida. And if that happens to be a Democrat, so be it. If it happens to be a Republican, so be it,” the Florida governor said.
And Crist tried to stake out a position on the political spectrum relative to his two lead opponents, Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek and Republican Marco Rubio.
“We've got candidates, now, in this race, one that's on the hard right, in Speaker Rubio, one that's on the hard left, in Congressman Meek,” said Crist.
The governor described himself as the more moderate choice compared to Rubio and Meek adding “and then you've got a common-sense guy, right down the middle, that wants to represent the people of the state and do what's right.”
He added, “It's not right versus left. This is about right versus wrong.”
Crist acknowledged that it will be an uphill battle to run for the Senate without the support of the Republican Party, but added the backing his campaign has received from teachers has given him a boost.
“That really inspired me,” said Crist, who recently vetoed a bill opposed by teachers. “And while it's an uphill battle, I'm encouraged.”