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Politics

As Charlie Crist Readies to Launch '14 Bid, Rick Scott Is in No Hurry

October 29, 2013 - 7:00pm

As former Gov. Charlie Crist gears up for a Monday announcement that will almost certainly kick off a campaign to regain his old job, all but forgotten is that the man who currently holds the position hasn't officially announced his re-election effort.

To be sure, Gov. Rick Scott has left little doubt that he is making a bid for a second term, even if one ignores the recalibrations on policy and politics over the past few months -- which critics deride as an effort to make nice with voters.

"Unless my wife tells me she's dumping me, I'm running for a second term," Scott told Bay News 9's "Political Connections" show back in 2011.

And Let's Get to Work, a fundraising arm of Scott's 2010 campaign, has already raised $13 million this year in preparation for what could be one of the most expensive runs in state history. That does away with some of the urgency of setting up the formal fundraising account that will back Scott's re-election effort.

But Scott has not held a campaign kickoff event, has not formally filed for the office and has yet to select a lieutenant governor, who will serve as his running mate in the 2014 campaign. His first lieutenant governor, former state Rep. Jennifer Carroll, resigned in March.

"There's just no rush," said Susie Wiles, who was Scott's campaign manager in 2010. "He is busy being governor and doing the things he said he would do when he was elected the first time."

The main reason for making an early announcement, to build name identification with voters through the media and campaign ads, doesn't exist for Scott, who is traveling around the state as governor.

Republican strategist Rick Wilson agreed there's no hurry for a formal event -- if one even comes at all.

"I don't think there's a hard requirement that Rick Scott goes out and does a banners-and-bunting announcement," Wilson said.

Crist, according to Wilson, is in a different position. The former Republican and former independent still needs to reintroduce himself to Democrats, and will be hit by the GOP over job losses while Crist was governor. Scott and his supporters have already begun arguing that the current governor is bringing those jobs back.

"He doesn't have to chase Charlie Crist," Wilson said of Scott. "Charlie Crist has to chase him."

Wiles and Sen. John Thrasher, who chaired the Republican Party of Florida during Scott's 2010 run, both said Scott will likely do something to make his re-election bid official. But Thrasher also said it will likely come later.

"Timing for announcing all that is not, I don't think, all that important," Thrasher said.

Rumors are already running rampant that Scott will announce a lieutenant governor selection -- perhaps Thrasher -- as soon as Friday. Scott's office did not respond Tuesday afternoon to questions about whether he would announce a lieutenant governor selection soon or when he planned to announce for re-election.

Wilson said the impact of any lieutenant governor selection on the voting in 2014 would be minor.

"Honestly, it's a no-harm, no-foul thing," he said.

Thrasher has consistently pushed aside rumors that he will be considered for the position, a stance he reiterated Tuesday. Thrasher said he hasn't talked to anyone in the governor's office about taking the job, and that the last time he saw Scott's chief of staff Adam Hollingsworth, who is running the search, was during a committee week lawmakers held earlier this month.

"I don't know where it's coming from," he said.

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