Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Gov. Rick Scott's peaceful campaign days are numbered

Gov. Rick Scott has been traveling the state making jobs announcements and stockpiling millions for his campaign.

JIM DAMASKE | Times

Gov. Rick Scott has been traveling the state making jobs announcements and stockpiling millions for his campaign.

For Rick Scott, life is about to get more complicated.

The Florida governor is on political cruise control as he jets to his next jobs announcement, cherry-picks the questions he wants to answer and stockpiles millions for his re-election campaign. But he's in for a November to remember.

Charlie Crist will be all the rage at this weekend's Florida Democratic Party conference at Disney World, and he's expected to enter the race for governor next month on the heels of a law effective Nov. 1 that raises campaign donation limits from $500 to $3,000.

As a Democrat, Crist is a Charlie-come-lately who has a lot of explaining to do.

But even a reinvented Crist gives Democrats something they haven't had since the likes of Lawton Chiles two decades ago. He is a known quantity, a household name who gives long-suffering Democrats an identity.

The past four Democratic nominees for governor — Buddy MacKay, Bill McBride, Jim Davis and Alex Sink — all had the same problem: They didn't have the charisma to connect with enough people.

They also may have been too liberal for some voters, but the race for governor is biographical, not just ideological. This is where Scott's problems begin.

Familiarity and likability are Crist's strengths, and they are Scott's glaring weaknesses.

Scott is the rarest of political creatures, an incumbent estranged from his own constituents, and a governor in his third year of office who has the deer-in-headlights look of a neophyte. He has a connectivity problem with voters that no amount of new jobs can completely cure.

With his weak poll numbers, Scott looks beatable in a way that Crist and Jeb Bush never did.

Crist, of course, has his own challenges with a reputation as a serial candidate for the next highest office who lacks gravitas and doesn't have much to show for his previous term as governor. But people know all that and still like him because they know him. Crist is supremely effective at relating and emoting. Next to the wooden Scott, the contrast couldn't be sharper.

Scott has compounded his problems by zigzagging on issues. He endorsed Medicaid expansion but didn't fight for it, and his signature issue of 2013, a teacher pay raise, has fallen short of his iron-clad $2,500 promise. His Republican brand is tarnished by the mess in Washington, and now Crist is stalking him.

My hunch is that Scott will ignore Crist for as long as he can and employ a Rose Garden strategy, talking about jobs and education, while the Republican Party blasts at Crist. But he'll need a campaign apparatus, and the question is whether Scott's chief of staff, Adam Hollingsworth, is in for a reassignment (he was an adviser and debate coach in the home stretch of Scott's 2010 race).

Crist's early circle of advisers, including Dan Gelber, Steve Schale, Kevin Cate, Michelle Todd and former state Democratic Party leaders Mike Hamby and Bob Poe, are starved for a victory and spoiling for a fight with Scott.

The moment Crist declares his candidacy, it's game on.

Contact Steve Bousquet at bousquet@tampabay.com or (850) 224-7263.

Gov. Rick Scott's peaceful campaign days are numbered 10/21/13 [Last modified: Monday, October 21, 2013 9:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Gators rally past Kentucky, streak hits 31

    Blogs

    LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the second week in a row, Florida found itself storming the field in a game that came down to the last second. A 57-yard field-goal attempt by Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis came just a few feet short of making history and snapping a 30-year losing streak, as the No. 20 Gators escaped a …

    Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.
  2. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win

    Blogs

    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

  3. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.
  4. Trump fallout: Bucs' DeSean Jackson to make 'statement' Sunday

    Bucs

    Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson said Saturday that he will make a "statement" before today's game against the Vikings in response to President Donald Trump's comment that owners should "fire" players who kneel in protest during the national anthem.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) makes a catch during the first half of an NFL game between the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017.
  5. Kriseman invites Steph Curry to St. Pete on Twitter

    Blogs

    Mayor Rick Kriseman is no stranger to tweaking President Donald Trump on social media.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman took to Twitter Saturday evening to wade into President Donald Trump's latest social media scuffle