Fla.'s Crist is Democrat now

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who was elected the state's chief executive as a Republican and then ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate as an independent, announced on Twitter that he's switching to the Democratic Party.

He cited the Republican Party's shift to the right on a range of issues, including immigration, education, and the environment.

The announcement Friday night fanned speculation that he would seek to get his old job from Republican Gov. Rick Scott in 2014.

Crist sent out a tweet that said, "Proud and honored to join the Democratic Party in the home of President @Barack Obama!"

The Tampa Bay Times reported that Crist signed the papers changing his affiliation from independent at a Christmas reception at the White House. President Obama greeted the news with a fist bump. - AP

Jazz landmark in N.Y. to close

NEW YORK - The Lenox Lounge, a cabaret in New York City's Harlem neighborhood with a supercool, Art Deco style that made it a favorite of jazz greats such as Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane, is closing its doors on New Year's Eve.

Longtime owner Alvin Reed said that with rents rising, he can no longer afford the lease on the jazz landmark. It opened in 1942. He said the landlord wanted $20,000 per month.

The space is set to be taken over in the new year by Richard Notar, a managing partner at Nobu Restaurants. Notar told the New York Times he hopes to keep the bar as "an old watering hole" with live music, but he hasn't worked out a deal with Reed yet to use the Lenox Lounge name. - AP

La. choosing House member

BATON ROUGE, La. - Voters are deciding which of Louisiana's members of Congress is to be pushed out because of the state's shrinking U.S. House delegation.

Republicans Charles Boustany and Jeff Landry were forced into the same district when the state lost a congressional seat. Census data from 2010 showed the state's population declined, meaning lawmakers had to redraw political districts.

The two men were in a runoff Saturday to determine who returns to Congress next year. The winner will represent the Third District covering southwest Louisiana.

The congressional race has been attack-heavy, since both men have run as conservative Republicans opposed to the policies of President Obama and have had few philosophical differences. - AP

Elsewhere:

Sea turtles stressed

by cold ocean waters have been airlifted from New England to recover in balmy Florida. The Coast Guard flew more than two dozen of them to Orlando. A New England Aquarium spokesman said a record number of endangered and protected sea turtles have been treated this year for cold stress.