MIAMI -

Republican-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist picked former congressional candidate and Miami-Dade County Democratic Party chairwoman Annette Taddeo-Goldstein as his running mate.

The former governor made the announcement Thursday in Miami.

"Annette is a remarkable woman and a classic American success story," Crist said. "She will make an excellent lieutenant governor because as a working mom she knows Florida families are struggling to pay their bills, raise their kids and save for retirement, and because she believes, as I do, that all Floridians deserve a fair shot at success."

Taddeo-Goldstein was born in Colombia to an American father and Colombian mother. She spent the first 17 years of her life in the South American country.

The pick comes less than six weeks ahead of the Democratic primary and will help shore up support among the party faithful. Crist is facing former Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich.

Taddeo-Goldstein is also a vice chairman of the Florida Democratic Party and is on the Democratic National Committee's executive committee.

"When Charlie asked me why I wanted to do this job, my answer was simple -- together we can make a difference," she said.

Crist was a Republican until running for Senate as an independent in 2010. He first registered as a Democrat less than two years ago.