Former Republican darling Governor Charlie Crist defected from the Republican Party yesterday to run as an independent for US Senate after months of being ripped by conservatives as too supportive of President Barack Obama.

Crist was the favourite last year, and was among the Republican names bandied about in the 2012 presidential race.

But the primary campaign quickly became a lost cause as conservative activists embraced another candidate, Marco Rubio, and held up the Governor's literal embrace of Obama last year as evidence that Crist was too liberal.