Former Democratic Rep. Robert Wexler endorsed no-party candidate Charlie Crist for U.S. Senate Sunday, as polling shows Gov. Crist struggling to gather enough Democratic and Republican votes to win in a three-way race against Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Kendrick Meek.

“Charlie Crist has repeatedly demonstrated the integrity and independence Washington needs right now to help Florida’s working families through these tough times,” said Wexler in a statement. Wexler resigned from Congress in January to become president of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace.

Wexler campaigned for Crist Sunday in Boca Raton and Tamarac. Wexler used to represent the 19th Congressional District, immediately north of Meek’s urban Miami district. Meek has portrayed himself as the “real Democrat” in the race, highlighting Crist’s positions as a Republican until he left the party to run as a no-party candidate in April.

Wexler’s endorsement may help swing traditionally Democratic Jewish voters — who make up approximately 5 percent of the state electorate — toward Crist. Wexler said Crist will “ensure Israel remains our closest friend and all,” and made one campaign stop Sunday at a synagogue. Wexler had been interested in U.S.-Israeli relations throughout his seven terms in Congress; he represented a district with many Jewish voters.

The announcement has been a long time coming. Wexler and Crist are close, and served together in the Florida state legislature. Wexler’s former chief of staff, Eric Johnson, became Crist’s South Florida political adviser in May.

Polling shows Crist needs all the help he can get to win the election — as an independent attempting to critique both parties, he has failed to find solid ground to run on. Recently, he has trailed Rubio in polls by about 10 points.

Luke Johnson reports on Florida for The American Independent.

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