No fear in dating the governor

A onetime beauty queen confirms the buzz about their relationship.

Published May 22, 2007

She's blond. She's tan. She's a mother of two, a former beauty queen who auditioned for NBC's Fear Factor by eating a live earthworm and hiding four lizards in her mouth.

And now, it's official: She's the governor's girl.

Kelly Crosby Heyniger, 36, confirmed her relationship with Gov. Charlie Crist, 50, in an interview on WPBF-Ch. 25, the ABC affiliate in Palm Beach County where she lives.

Heyniger and Crist met during a charity benefit on tony Jupiter Island early this year, after he traded life in St. Petersburg for the Governor's Mansion in Tallahassee.

Heyniger told WPBF, during the interview in her home, that they've been dating since February and see each other about every two weeks.

"We're just hanging out, enjoying each others' company," Heyniger smiles.

Speaking from Charlie's populist script, she called her paramour "the people's governor" and marveled at how popular he is wherever they go.

"It takes two hours to get in the door anywhere," she laughed.

The Governor's Office didn't comment about the interview. Crist, who is divorced, has been mostly mum about Heyniger for weeks.

The buzz about Crist and Heyniger's rumored relationship started three months ago when the Palm Beach Post showed a picture of the pair together at the Jupiter Island charity event. Last month, the Post reported that the two ate a late dinner at Cucina restaurant in Palm Beach.

Heyniger describes herself as a part-time model, actor and hairstylist. She is divorced, a South Carolina native who now lives in West Palm with her two children, 9-year-old Briggs and 6-year-old Bree.

Heyniger said Briggs' teachers ask him, "Is your mom really dating the governor?"

Yes, Heyniger tells Briggs. We're dating.

She's no stranger to media attention. She was crowned Mrs. South Carolina in 2001. She starred in a Dawson's Creek episode as Pacey's troublesome girlfriend. Then there was Fear Factor, the reality freakout show that had her suspended about 70 feet above the ground between two buildings.

In political circles, she's already being called "America's Hottest Mom."

Heyniger doesn't officially have that title yet, but she is in the "America's Hottest Mom" scholarship contest, sponsored by a pharmaceutical company that sells antiwrinkle cream.

Not bad for a former tomboy who says she always preferred fishing and motorcycles to dolls and makeup.

She told the Palm Beach Post in 2004 that in Fear Factor's psychological evaluation, she tested "78 percent masculine."

She says she's still a blue jeans gal, but now she's more likely to don a dress for her dates with Charlie.

She lets him wear the jeans instead.

"Charlie loves jeans," she told WPBF. "He is a great guy, a lot of fun. He's real."