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Digest: Florida Gov. Charlie Crist ready to leave GOP, sources say

Thursday, April 29, 2010; A03

FLORIDA

Crist ready to leave GOP, sources say

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist plans to announce Thursday that he will run for the Senate as an independent, leaving the Republican Party and setting up a three-way fight in the fall, according to several sources briefed on his decision.

Sources close to Crist warned that he could change his mind at the last minute -- and has shown a propensity for doing just that. But they also described him as comfortable with his decision and not terribly conflicted, a mind-set that does not suggest he would reverse course.

Crist's nomination was once considered a sure thing, given his statewide popularity, but former state House speaker Marco Rubio (R) has ridden a wave of adoration from conservatives nationally to pass Crist in GOP polls. He also is raising more money than Crist.

-- Chris Cillizza

AIRLINE SAFETY

Veteran charged in diversion of plane

A 27-year-old U.S. Air Force veteran interfered with flight crew members and falsely claimed he had dynamite in his backpack aboard a Delta flight Tuesday from Paris to Atlanta, federal authorities charged Wednesday.

Delta Flight 273 was diverted to Bangor, Maine, where it landed safely. None of the 235 passengers and 13 crew members aboard were injured.

Derek Michael Stansberry of Riverview, Fla., was charged Wednesday in a criminal complaint in the District of Maine, U.S. Attorney Paula D. Silsby announced. Preliminary tests indicated traces of explosives on Stansberry's boots and checked luggage. No explosives were found on the plane or in luggage.

Stansberry faces up to 20 years in prison if found guilty of interfering with the crew and up to five years on the false-threat charge.

-- Spencer S. Hsu

Police say Texan decapitated wife with chain saws: Lewisville, Tex., police searched Wednesday for a man who allegedly used two chain saws to decapitate his wife before leaving her body in the street near their suburban Dallas home. Police said an arrest warrant had been issued for Jose Fernando Corona, 49, charging him with the murder of his wife.

R.I. teachers union sues after mass firings: A Rhode Island teachers union has sued a troubled school district that fired all its high school teachers and staff. The union is challenging a requirement that all fired teachers reapply for their jobs. No more than half can be rehired under a federal turnaround model for the school district. Central Falls has been identified as among the worst high schools in the state.

Officer in Gates case invited to lead R.I. parade: The Massachusetts police sergeant whose arrest of a Harvard professor created a national debate over racial profiling has been invited to lead a Rhode Island parade. Sgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge Police Department will be grand marshal of the 27th Aquidneck Island National Police Parade on Sunday.

Attorneys try to stop Utah firing squad execution: Attorneys for a Utah inmate scheduled to be killed by firing squad have asked a judge to put the execution on hold. Ronnie Lee Gardner's execution is scheduled for June 18. Utah convicts sentenced to death before 2004 can choose lethal injection or a firing squad, and Gardner chose the latter.

-- From news services

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