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State Sen. Nan Rich running for governor in 2014

TALLAHASSEE — State Sen. Nan Rich said she made up her mind months ago to run for governor, but it wasn't until a short video was posted on YouTube that people really took notice.

The 1-minute, 39-second video was recorded by someone at the Broward Democratic Party's monthly meeting Tuesday. It begins with the sound of people chanting "run, Nan, run" after a member of the audience asked about her plans to challenge Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

"I am planning on running for governor in 2014," Rich responded, eliciting more cheers and even a standing ovation from some.

The Weston Democrat didn't expect the video to bring so much attention to her pending candidacy, she said Wednesday.

"It was just unscripted, if you will," said Rich, 70, known as one of the most liberal voices in the Senate and as an advocate for children and the poor.

She said she is running for governor after becoming more and more frustrated with how state government is being run. Rich pointed out recent budget cuts to state universities and several years of reductions in K-12 funding that were only partially restored in the budget Scott signed into law Tuesday.

"I think priorities of this state need to be changed because I think that the issues that I'm hearing from people that they care about are not being addressed by the current Republican administration," she said.

Rich said her focus for now is developing a strategic plan for the campaign and coming up with a financial strategy.

But other prominent Democrats are also rumored to be considering a run for governor in 2014, including state party chairman Rod Smith, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio and Alex Sink, who lost to Scott in 2010.

Even former Gov. Charlie Crist, who dropped his Republican Party affiliation, is rumored to be considering a bid as a Democrat.

During her statement to Broward Republicans, Rich mentioned that Crist could be running as a Democrat. That elicited jeers from the crowd.

Republican consultant Brian Hughes, a former spokesman for Scott, said Democrats would do well to question a run by Crist. Rich's campaign would have credibility, he said.

"Given that her constituency is the heavily Democrat portion of the state, I don't see how she's anything but formidable in a Democrat primary," he said. "Party leaders may want to embrace a chameleon like Charlie Crist, but South Florida Democrats see Rich as a fighter for what they believe."

Rich is a popular figure in Broward and well-liked by party activists who would work hard on her campaign, said Mitchell Ceasar, chairman of the county's Democrats.

"She's always been a big supporter of the local party," he said. She also has statewide connections after serving two years as Senate minority leader, he said.

But the question will be who else enters the race.

"I think right now we're in what's called the gossip phase," Ceasar said. "I don't think we'll begin to see that in earnest until after the presidential election."

Times political editor Adam C. Smith contributed to this report. Tia Mitchell can be reached at tmitchell@tampabay.com or (850) 224-7263.

State Sen. Nan Rich running for governor in 2014 04/18/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 6:47pm]
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