Published: Apr 30, 2010 1:55 AM EDT

ST PETERSBURG, Fla. - Governor Charlie Crist has confirmed his run for senate as an unaffiliated candidate. In a 5:55 p.m. press conference, Crist announced that he'll run as an independent candidate instead of running as a Republican.

The announcement was made at Straub Park in St. Petersburg.

Crist, who trails tea party favorite Marco Rubio badly in polls, made the announcement at a news conference Thursday evening. He confirmed that he'll drop out of the Aug. 24 GOP primary to run on his own. That sets up an unusual three-way race with Rubio and likely Democratic nominee Kendrick Meek.

According to some, running as an independent may be the only way he can stay in the race, but that decision comes with some peril. As a result of his decision to run as an independent of the Republican party, Crist loses his fundraising base, and likely most of his staff, who won't want to risk their own political careers with other Republican politicians by staying with him.

Scott Paine, professor of communication, government and world affairs at the University of Tampa, said an independent run could position Crist well with the large, moderate voting block in Florida. "You have Rubio to his right and Meek to his left and most Floridians in the middle, which is where Crist appears to be most of the time anyway," Paine said. "What we've seen of Charlie Crist, especially in the last six months, suggests that he really wasn't ever that hardcore conservative Republican and that's the Charlie people know."

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Marco Rubio comments on 2010 U.S. senate election