TAMPA — Former state Sen. Paula Dockery said Friday that she'll support Democrat Charlie Crist if the 2014 governor's race comes down to him and Republican Gov. Rick Scott.
"I can't see a scenario by which I would stand by a Scott administration," the Lakeland Republican said after speaking to a crowd of 30 at the Tiger Bay Club of Tampa.
Dockery frequently criticized Scott during her speech. In particular, she took issue with his positions on the environment, transportation, education and private prisons.
Out of the likely Democratic contenders, Dockery said that Crist, the former Republican governor turned Democrat, has the best chance against Scott because of his name recognition.
At the event, Dockery said the Democrat she would most support is former Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink. But Friday afternoon, Sink announced she will not run for governor.
Afterward, Dockery said, "I think she had the fire in her belly to run, but she's realistic enough to know that it was going to be hard to raise money."
Dockery is hopeful that a Republican or an independent "policy wonk" will step forward who will "turn Florida into the gem that we should be." Though she briefly ran for governor in 2010 before dropping out to back Scott, Dockery said she started losing trust in him during the general election.
Dockery, who said she's done running for public office, said she is less proud to be a Republican than she was when she was first elected to the House in 1996. Now she embraces the "moderate" label other legislators have given her.
Despite her frustrations, she doesn't intend to leave the Republican Party and doesn't want others to either.
"I urge you not to leave the party but to make your voices heard," Dockery said.
The party will not stay the same forever, she emphasized, despite what she sees as an ever-smaller party base that excludes women, minorities and the poor.
"They're showing a lack of tolerance for anyone else's opinion," she said. "Compromise is such a dirty word."