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2014 Gubernatorial Race Shapes Up: What Gov. Scott and Dem Challengers Are Doing

The 2014 gubernatorial race is shaping up, as Governor Rick Scott has released his first campaign ad this week. While Scott has at least one Democratic challenger, other potential candidates are lining up to say “Don’t count me out.”

“Four years before I became Governor, the state had lost over 825,000 jobs. The unemployment rate had gone from 3.5 to 11.1 percent.”

That’s part of Governor Rick Scott’s new Web ad that he released at the start of the week. In it, Scott drew contrasts between the unemployment rate before his tenure and January’s rate at 7.8-percent. And, with his new campaign slogan “It’s Working,” he also touted the number of jobs that have been created for Floridians.

“Well, it’s more than a year earlier than when he started campaigning in 2010. So, I’d say he’s a bit concerned about his prospects in 2014,” said Daniel Smith, a University of Florida Political Scientist.

Smith says putting the ad out now could be telling of what Scott thinks of his current popularity.

According to some polls, Scott would lose to several potential Democratic challengers—with two particular polls, one by Quinnipiac University and another by Public Policy Polling Institute, showing that Scott would lose to former Governor Charlie Crist, a potential Democratic nominee.

But, Scott says he doesn’t take much stock in the polls.

“There’s one poll that matters, and that’s November 2014,” said Scott, following a Cabinet meeting weeks ago.

And, he has a fellow ally in that regard in Former Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich.

“I take absolutely no stock in those polls. I believe that if you delve into the polls, there are serious flaws,” said Rich.

So far, Rich is the only Democratic challenger to officially throw her hat in the ring.

She says right now she may not have as much name recognition right now as some of the other Democratic challengers, but she says she’s not going to let that get her down.

“I kind of equate it to the story of the tortoise and the hare. I’m just slowly making my way across the state and building this infrastructure and I think it’s going to pay off in the long run,” added Rich.

And, she says she’s in the midst of making an ad of her own, which she expects to come out soon.

Meanwhile, there’s been speculation former Republican Governor Charlie Crist, who switched parties a couple months ago, could be shaping up for a run, which he has neither confirmed nor denied. But, earlier this month, following an appearance at the Democratic Women’s Club of Lee County, Crist gave Cape Coral’s Fox 4 News more of a definite response that he was mulling over a run as a Democrat.

“I'm thinking about it. There's no question about that, I haven't reached any conclusion. I’m just taking the opportunity to listen to my fellow Floridians and give it serious thought,” said Crist.

Alex Sink, the state’s former CFO, is another name that’s come up in a potential matchup against Scott. The Democrat challenged Scott in the 2010 race, but lost. But, some polls show she could beat today.

However, Sink’s not saying whether she’ll run against the Governor, especially given the tragedy she recently went through in the loss of her husband, Bill McBride. But, in a recent interview with the Tampa Tribune, she says she’s not “closing the door on the possibility.”

“I think if I’m going to make a run, I believe that I ought to make that decision and let people know of my intentions sometime this Summer,” said Sink.

But, University of Florida Political Scientist Daniel Smith says she shouldn't wait too long because it could hurt her chances if she decides to run.

“So, I think many Democrats are looking for the leading contenders to either fish or cut bait. And, right now, it’s only Nan Rich putting her neck out there and talking about policies that differ with that of the Governor,” said Smith.

Besides Sink and Crist, other names mentioned as possible Democratic candidates include Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. He had initially considered running as a Democratic candidate, but backed out last month. There’s also Pam Iorio, Tampa’s current mayor, who according to a PPP poll, could have a slight edge over Nan Rich if she were to run today against Governor Scott.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on twitter @SaschaCordner.

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.