By Yaël Ossowski | Florida Watchdog

ST. PETERSBURG — Seizing the opportunity of a lifetime,Democratic politicians from all parts of the country are taking to the well-lit podium at theDemocratic National Convention in Charlotte, hoping to play the audience’s heartstrings and secure their own political futures.

They have historical reasons to be hopeful: It was at the 2004 DNC in Boston that the nation was first introduced to the riveting rhetorical stylings of a young Illinois state senator named Barack Obama.

But among the seasoned Democratic politicians and rising stars from states and cities nationwide will be a tanned, experienced politician with a Republican pedigree, former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who lost the 2010 U.S. Senate race to the Republican Marco Rubio.

The former governor started that race as a Republican, but ran as an independent after public opinion polls showed him trailing by double digits.

Since his loss to Rubio, Crist has been seen throughout Florida — on billboards as a spokesman for Morgan & Morgan, a personal-injury law firm based inOrlando. Now his star is rising in the Democratic firmament: he’ll address the DNC Thursday night, the same day as President Barack Obama.

Analysts say his appearance at the DNC, as well as several high-profile endorsements of Democrats in state and federal office, mean that Crist is laying the groundwork for a second run at the governor’s mansion in Tallahassee.

“What we’re witnessing with Charlie Crist is the slow, not so subtle, transition from the former Republican governor we all knew, to the controversial independent senate candidate we got to know in 2010 to an eventual Democratic candidate for some office in the future, possibly running in the governor’s race in 2014,” said political analyst Frank Torres of CF News 13 in Orlando.

Read more: Florida Watchdog