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Jim Davis has a favorite for governor, and it's not Charlie Crist

Charlie Crist is working to win over members of his new party but he hasn't persuaded Jim Davis, the 2006 Democratic candidate for governor, who says Crist would be judged on his record — "and he's got a record."

Davis is among those urging Sen. Bill Nelson to enter the 2014 gubernatorial race.

"I served with Sen. Nelson for years and I think he'd be a very strong, effective governor," Davis said in an interview. "I think Charlie's going to run but I assume if Sen. Nelson runs he would be the nominee, and I think he would win."

Asked if Democrats could accept Crist, Davis said: "I think he's going to be held to a high standard. When you run, you're judged on your record and he's got a record."

"The real question is, how does (a candidate) stack up against Gov. (Rick) Scott?" Davis continued. "That's going to be a huge battle. It's going to be a campaign that Charlie Crist has never faced before. Sen. Nelson has faced a campaign like that. He just went through one. They threw everything in the world at him."

Davis said he likes Nelson's approach to the job.

"The thing Bill Nelson does is he works the entire state. He goes to Ocala. He goes to Chipley. He's in Fort Walton Beach. He's in Fort Myers. He never stops. They know him. It's not just the election cycle.

"I remember talking to him after he'd been through the Panhandle talking about the Affordable Care Act. You can imagine that was pretty tough. He said he stood there in front of people and they asked him the tough questions. He had some good answers and some answers they didn't like, but they appreciated that. People don't forget that."

But will Nelson commit? While he's considering the race, signs point to him sticking to the Senate.

"It would be an immense personal sacrifice for him," Davis said. "And it is a long shot. He is still recovering from the last campaign."

Spoken like a mom

Jeb Bush spoke Wednesday at the Mackinac Policy Conference in Michigan, touching on education policy, immigration and whether he'll run for president in 2016.

"My thinking is to not think about it for a year," Bush said. "I'm 60 … life teaches you need to make decisions in the right time."

Asked about his mother's recent declaration that the country has had "enough Bushes," the former Florida governor laughed and said, "Look, all I can say is we all have mothers."

Bush made an appeal for school choice, comparing it to the benefits of being able to go to Publix in Coral Gables and choose between milks: whole, skim, strawberry, almond and soy. He expressed optimism on immigration reform: "It is not the American way to keep people in the shadows. And he urged the GOP to move past an agenda that opposes everything: "We've got to be for things again."

An immigration divide

A new Quinnipiac University poll released Friday showed that a whopping 71 percent of voters nationally think Democrats and Republicans in Congress will not be able to work together to achieve immigration reform.

That's troubling for Sen. Marco Rubio, who helped write the bill being debated. Opponents last week sharpened their attacks on him. One group paid for a billboard on I-75 in Ocala blasting the "Rubio-Obama Amnesty." Another, Californians for Population Stabilization, put ads on Florida TV that feature Rubio and say the legislation, if approved, would flood the state with job-taking immigrants. Proponents dismissed the actions of fringe groups opposed to any reforms, but it shows the heat surrounding the issue, while lower than the last debate in 2007, remains.

At the same time, reform proponents are fighting back. The Evangelical Immigration Table, a group of pastors nationally, is putting up a billboard near Rubio's Jacksonville office that reads "Praying for immigrants. Praying for congress" and has a link to a website. What's more, the group is running an ad on Christian radio featuring the Rev. Dr. David Uth, senior pastor at First Baptist Orlando.

That's a lot of candles

More than a hundred of Talbot (Sandy) D'Alemberte's friends dropped by the rotunda at the Florida State University law school Thursday to help him celebrate his 80th birthday at a party arranged by his wife and law partner, Patsy Palmer. The courtly and ever-smiling D'Alemberte wore one of his signature bow ties and greeted well-wishers for more than an hour as guests sampled cake, ice cream, iced tea and lemonade.

"Sandy is one of the finest human beings I have ever known," said former Gov. Reubin Askew, who wore a garnet and gold necktie and worked the crowd accompanied by his wife, Donna Lou. "He was always motivated for the right reasons."

Among those who stopped by were two former Supreme Court justices, Major Harding and Stephen Grimes.

Times staff writer Steve Bousquet contributed to this week's Buzz.

Winner of the week

Nan Rich. The Democratic candidate for governor has struggled for attention but got some last week from an unlikely source: the Republican Party of Florida, which jumped on reports Rich was being denied a speaking opportunity at an upcoming Democratic dinner. In news releases and on Twitter (#FreeNanRich) the GOP, even if not for altruistic reasons, gave Rich a shot of publicity and showed that not all Democrats are ready to crown Charlie Crist.

Loser of the week

Allison Tant. Five minutes! That's all Rich wanted to speak, but Tant, chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party, said no. Her reason may be valid — the annual dinner turned into a marathon — but the shutout emboldened Tant's critics both in the party and the GOP.

Jim Davis has a favorite for governor, and it's not Charlie Crist 06/01/13 [Last modified: Saturday, June 1, 2013 7:49pm]
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