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Politics

Even in Qualifying Week, Attacks Fly in Governor's Race

June 17, 2014 - 6:00pm
Even as candidates spend the week qualifying for the ballot, the attacks continue to fly in the Florida gubernatorial contest.

Lets Get to Work, a group tied to Gov. Rick Scott, unveiled a new television ad on Wednesday which will soon be run across the Sunshine State. The new ad focuses on former Gov. Charlie Crist, the favorite for the Democratic nomination despite spending most of his political life as a Republican, accusing him of raising tuition during his time as governor.

"Charlie Crist consistently raised tuition as governor, even allowing it to increase up to 15 percent every single year, said Leslie Dougher, the chairwoman of the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF), on Wednesday. He even said it was the right thing to do. Gov. Scott knows that making it harder for Floridians to get a college degree is never the right thing, which is why he reversed Crists 15 percent tuition increase and has cut the cost of a college prepaid plan by almost $20,000.

Lets Get to Work is putting $2 million behind the ad which hits the airwaves on Friday.

That wasnt the only jab the Scott team threw at Crist on Wednesday. The RPOF also took aim at former Crist with a new website urging him to publicly release his tax returns.

Earlier in the week, Scott released three years of tax returns for 2010, 2011 and 2012. The new website, which the RPOF showcased on Wednesday, counts down time since the governor asked Crist to do the same.

"If Charlie Crist cares about transparency he will release his and his wife's returns, said Susan Hepworth, a spokeswoman for the RPOF, on Wednesday. "But, so far he doesn't care and he hasn't provided Floridians with the transparency they deserve. Now, only time will tell. The clock is ticking."

When will Charlie Crist answer Gov. Scotts call for transparency? asked Greg Blair, a spokesman for Scott, on Wednesday. Were still waiting.

The Florida Democratic Party looked to push back on Wednesday, hitting Scott on a host of fronts.

Rick Scotts claim to transparency is the most laughable political spin, the Florida Democrats fired back. The only thing transparent about Rick Scott is his commitment to secrecy and shady dealing. It look legal action to force Scott to show the public his investment portfolio, and he has the gall to claim he values transparency?

The Florida Democrats bashed Scott, claiming he refuses to release the details of his travel schedule like every governor before him, redacting the most basic details from months-old travel records and holding meetings with unknown persons in secret and attacking his record in the private sector.

Rick Scott hasnt been transparent a day in his whole career, the Florida Democrats claimed. Thats why Floridians cant trust him.

But even as the Florida Democratic Party pushed back against Scotts attack on Crist, another Democratic gubernatorial hopeful looked to contrast herself with the former Republican. Former Florida Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich qualified for the ballot on Tuesday, calling it a major moment for our campaign before presenting herself as different from Crist.

Im a lifelong Democrat, Rich noted on Tuesday before renewing her call to debate Crist. Despite his recent political conversion, which included abandoning the conservative positions he championed for many years on the Florida political stage to support liberal ideals, Crist has refused to debate Rich.

As the first elected woman leader of the Senate Democrats, I always stood up for fairness, equality and individual rights, Rich insisted. Im ready to debate all these issues and Im ready to lead Florida in a new direction. I believe its time Florida had a genuine progressive governor again. And, this year, I'm the only genuine progressive Democrat running.

In the meantime, on Wednesday, Libertarian Adrian Wyllie cheered the news that he was being invited to a gubernatorial debate in Gainesville at the end of September with the major party candidates. The debate will be held at the University of Florida and will be shown on Fox affiliates across Florida.

Wyllie qualified for the ballot on Monday, a fact his campaign celebrated on Tuesday.

There will be at least three names on the November ballot, the Wyllie team trumpeted on Tuesday. Adrian Wyllie will be one of them.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

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