Will Scott Be A One-Term Governor? Democratic Hopefuls Make Their Cases
There’s a conservative Republican incumbent promising a $500 million tax cut. And a media darling former Governor who says he can serve the people better as a Democrat. And then there’s a Democratic challenger waging an uphill battle to be the state’s first female governor.
On Wednesday, as Gov. Rick Scott announced his budget priorities for the upcoming year, former Gov. Charlie Crist and former Florida Senate Leader Nan Rich took turns at the Capitol making their case for why they should be the next Florida governor.
Nine months out from Election Day, fundraising totals and poll numbers show former state Sen. Nan Rich at an extreme disadvantage to primary opponent Crist. But in a general election matchup, the same polls show her closely trailing Scott—a point she doesn’t hesitate to point out.
“There isn’t any amount of money that will persuade a majority of Floridians that Rick Scott deserves a second term,” she says.
Rich went on to lump Crist together with Scott and former Gov. Jeb Bush—saying the state’s last three Republican governors cut education funding and supported policies that put corporate interests above those of disadvantaged Floridians.
But Crist is now a Democrat, so Rich can’t sail through to the general election. In opinion polls, Crist outpaces Rich by more than two dozen percentage points. But she says she believes voters won’t choose based on personality.
“Who will lead the state for the next four years? Although some in the media, I think, have already decided who that person will be, the voters will get the last word,” she says.
She insists her grassroots campaign is gaining momentum. If elected, she says, her policies would be pro-choice and pro-gay marriage. And she says she’s committed to building infrastructure to fight the effects of climate change. But first she’d need to beat Crist.
He says, “I’m running for governor because I’m disappointed in what I see. It breaks my heart.”
Crist, the presumptive Democratic nominee, barely mentioned Rich, instead focusing on his likely general election rival, Scott. He attacked the governor for receiving large donations from people who won government contracts. He also brought up the Medicare fraud healthcare company Columbia/HCA committed during the time Scott was CEO.
“And I’m going to talk about it because it needs to be talked about and Floridians need to be reminded who I’m running against,” he says.
Facing questions about positions he’s reversed since switching parties, Crist repeated a favorite campaign line: “For me, it’s never so much been about right versus left. It’s more so been about right versus wrong.”
Like Rich, he says he’d like to expand education and environmental funding and he supports women’s reproductive rights and gay marriage. Those positions contrast with Scott, who has said he’s pro-life and supports “traditional marriage.”