During Tuesday's State of the State address, Gov. Rick Scott launched what must be considered the opening salvo of a likely rough-and-tumble battle for re-election in 2014.
During his speech, Scott clearly was gunning for former Gov. Charlie Crist, whose fiscal attentiveness while in office was considered by many questionable at best.
Crist is widely expected to run for governor as a Democrat in 2014.
With most polls showing Scott under water and losing to Crist -- a former Republican who left the GOP to run unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate with no party affiliation in 2010, and who has since jumped over to the Democrats -- the Republican governor contrasted his record as a budget watchdog in Tallahassee with his predecessors.
During his speech, Scott tore into the economic carnage Crist left behind after only one term.
??In the four years before I took office,? ?Florida lost more than? ?825,000? ?jobs, Scott said. Unemployment more than tripled? ?from? ?3.5 percent? ?to? ?11.1 percent? ?over those four years. State debt increased over those four years by? ?$5.2? ?billion. Our housing market had collapsed. Our economy was off track and our families were hurting.
Scott added that ?the shortsighted policies of borrowing on our future" under Crists watch led to disaster.
Turning to his own record, Scott maintained that his administration has turned Floridas economy around.
Our unemployment rate has now dropped by more than? ?3? ?percentage points from two years ago? ?the second biggest drop in the country, Scott said. We are now at? ?7.9? ?percent unemployment? ?a? ?four-year low.? ?And,? ?we arent stopping there. We have cut state debt by? ?$2? ?billion. Housing starts are up again,? ?and consumer confidence is rebounding.?
??Our economy has created around? ?200,000? ?new private sector jobs in the last two years ?? meaning that thousands of Florida families now have the opportunity to pursue their dreams, Scott continued. Its working.
While Scott did not mention Crist by name during the State of the State, he did acknowledge former Gov. Jeb Bush during the speech, praising his fellow Republican for his work on education reform.
Crist has been increasingly active in Florida. Last week, the former governor spoke to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. During his speech, Crist attacked Scotts policies regarding teachers and blamed him for long voting lines in Novembers elections.
Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis piece exclusively for Sunshine State News.