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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

As Democrats turn attention to 2014 and Rick Scott, Charlie Crist emerges as most vocal opponent



President Barack Obama’s narrow victory over Mitt Romney in Florida this week has Democrats eager to seize the momentum to focus on the next hurdle: defeating Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

Party leaders are thumping their chest that the triumph was a repudiation of the tea party, a signal that the state party is out-of-touch and a blueprint for unseating Scott, the most unpopular governor in Florida in two decades. But Democrats have one big problem: no standout candidate to challenge him.

“Working on that one,’’ joked Scott Arceneaux, director of the Florida Democratic Party.

Their bench includes former legislators, failed former candidates, and a long list of mayors. Only state Sen. Nan Rich, of Weston, who is little known outside Tallahassee, has announced she is in the race.

Then, there is Charlie Crist.

The populist former governor is undergoing a metamorphosis that is substantial even by political standards. He left his party in 2010 as a candidate for U.S. Senate, ran without party affiliation and lost to Republican Marco Rubio.

As an independent, he has since spent this election cycle campaigning aggressively for Obama, chastising his former party for an “extremist” agenda, and, in the last week, he has been accelerating criticism against Rick Scott.

When Scott refused to extend early voting hours as Crist had done in 2008, Crist tweeted “indefensible.” When Scott defiantly defended his decision Friday, Crist sent out a link to his statement and added: “I don’t think the people would agree, Governor.”

He told the Herald/Times that he believes Scott and the GOP were engaged in voter suppression that “created a backlash” and he spent election night making the cable television rounds with a similar message. More here.

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[Last modified: Saturday, November 10, 2012 8:13am]


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