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  1. Florida Politics

Gov. Scott draws two Republican challengers in re-election bid

Republican Elizabeth Cuevas-Neunder of Sarasota paid the qualifying fee of about $7,800 to have her name listed on the Aug. 26 ballot. [Facebook.com]
Published Jun. 17, 2014

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott's road to re-election got more crowded Monday as two little-known Republicans paid the filing fees to challenge him on the Aug. 26 primary ballot.

Democrats also will have a statewide primary for governor as Charlie Crist, a former Republican governor, filed his candidacy papers, and former Sen. Nan Rich expects to file hers today.

Scott's challengers, both women, are Yinka Abosede Adeshina of Tallahassee and Elizabeth Cuevas-Neunder of Sarasota.

Neither has much chance of upsetting Scott, a well-financed and well-known incumbent who also qualified on Monday. But their presence on the ballot could force Scott to pay more attention to the Republican voter base for the next two months.

Adeshina, 43, paid the $7,800 filing fee even as she reported a net worth of $8,000 with no income last year.

Her bare-bones campaign website says she is a 1997 graduate of Wayne State University in Detroit and has twin sons. She also is an announced candidate for president in 2016, and her website lists her goals as health care for all Florida residents by 2017.

She could not be reached for comment.

Cuevas-Neunder, 60, has a higher political profile. She ran unsuccessfully for the state House in 2006, for the Sarasota County School Board in 2004, and for governor in 1998.

She filed to challenge Jeb Bush in the 1998 Republican primary but was forced to withdraw after her lieutenant governor running mate resigned.

Cuevas-Neunder founded Miss Latina Program, a mentoring program for teen Hispanic girls, and she used to host a TV program promoting Hispanic culture on a Sarasota station. She said she would not be available for comment until today.

Crist's candidacy papers were filed by a sixth-grade language arts teacher, Sheria Griffin, to underscore Crist's claim that school funding has suffered under Scott.

Griffin was one of 13 teachers who attended a roundtable discussion on education with Crist in Tallahassee on Monday.

Crist said he would be a governor who "understands how precious education is and how important it is to honor our teachers and not demoralize the heck out of them."

Scott, at a Tampa campaign stop, said the new budget has the "highest funding for K-12 in the history of the state."

The budget Scott signed sets aside $18.9 billion for education, the largest overall amount in state history. But per-pupil spending of $6,937 falls short of the $7,126 spent per student in 2007-08, when Crist was governor.

"We're heading in the right direction. I've spent almost four years now cleaning up Charlie Crist's mess," Scott said.

All three Republican Cabinet members also qualified for the fall ballot Monday: Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

Staff writers Kathleen McGrory and Zack Peterson and Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Contact Steve Bousquet at bousquet@tampabay.com or (850) 224-7263.

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