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April 29th, 2010
01:21 PM ET

Analysis: Crist decision sets up entertaining, unpredictable race

Peter Hamby
CNN Political Producer

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/POLITICS/04/29/crist.independent/story.crist.gi.jpg caption="Florida Gov. Charlie Crist will run for Senate as an independent candidate" width=300 height=169]

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist's decision to abandon the Republican Party and run for Senate as an independent, expected to be made official at a St. Petersburg campaign event Thursday, marks a stunning turnaround for a politician who just over a year ago was heralded as one of the GOP's brightest young talents.

But Thursday's rally also represents a general election kick-off for what is now one of the most entertaining and unpredictable races of the midterm election year, a battle between three viable statewide candidates.

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