Governor's Race Mushrooms into Attack-Fest
Around the State
The gubernatorial race is heating up after Gov. Rick Scott offered the State of the State address on Tuesday with his challengers attacking the Republican incumbent and each other.
Former Gov. Charlie Crist, the favorite for the Democratic nomination to challenge Scott despite spending most of his political life in the GOP, continued on the attack on Wednesday. Pointing to Politifact’s review of Scott’s speech, Crist took aim at the Republican.
“Empty promises, half-truths, and downright falsehoods,” Crist insisted on Wednesday. “Simply put, Floridians deserve better.”
Crist sent out an email to supporters on Tuesday afternoon, portraying Scott’s speech as a “list of empty promises -- talking points and pay-to-play politics -- and nothing more.
“Rick Scott has had his chance,” Crist continued. “The people of Florida have had enough ... the people deserve a governor with bold ideas. Someone who can work with members of both parties to strengthen small businesses that create jobs, cut wasteful spending, and make our schools and universities better instead of cutting billions from education spending.
“The two parties in Tallahassee won't always agree -- nor should they,” Crist added. “But it's not a sin to reach across the aisle – it's an obligation of leadership, something we've seen far too little of under this governor. I believe that what unites us as Americans and as Floridians will always be more powerful than the issues that divide us. And if elected, I'll govern with that same sense of inclusion and optimism that will drive us forward together. Rick Scott doesn’t get that -- but I know the people of Florida do.”
But Scott’s team hit back on Wednesday, looking to link Crist to President Barack Obama who will be coming to South Florida on Friday.
“It’s ironic that President Obama is coming to Florida to talk about ‘expanding opportunity’ when Obamacare makes it harder for small businesses to create jobs,” said Lenny Curry, the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF), on Wednesday. “It shouldn’t be a surprise Charlie Crist supports a president and a law that hurts Florida’s job creators because he oversaw unemployment tripling in the Sunshine State and did nothing about it, choosing to attempt an escape to Washington, D.C., instead.”
Trying to catch Crist in the primary, former Florida Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich is stepping up the attacks on her rivals and even trying to tie them together. Rich hammered the State of the State address Scott gave on Tuesday.
“The fact is that all the things Rick Scott didn’t say in his State of the State speech yesterday would fill a budget document – a real budget document that would fund the critical needs of our state and get Florida back on the right track,” Rich insisted on Wednesday. “As governor, I’ll reset our state’s priorities. Public education, health care, the needs of working families, children, and seniors will come first. As your governor, I will do much better!”
But Rich has also looked to lump her two rivals together, trying to remind Democrats that Crist spent most of his political life as a Republican.
“For nearly eight years, under Republican Govs. Charlie Crist and Rick Scott, Florida has given billions in tax breaks and virtual control of our government over to special interests,” Rich maintained on Tuesday. “As a state, we are less safe and less able to meet the basic needs of our citizens than we were eight years ago. We don’t need a magician to fix what’s wrong with our state – we need a governor who will reset priorities and get our state back on the right track. And that’s exactly the kind of governor I’ll be.”
Rich wasn’t the only candidate trying to argue that Scott and Crist were two peas in a pod. Adrian Wyllie, the favorite to be the Libertarian Party’s candidate in the Florida gubernatorial race, made the same argument on Tuesday night.
“In his State of the State address today, Republican Gov. Rick Scott tried to convince Floridians to ‘keep working’ and that “it’s your money.’ Unfortunately, the truth is that fewer Floridians are working, and we’re keeping less of our own money,” Wyllie said on Tuesday night. “The number of working Floridians has decreased dramatically on Gov. Scott’s watch, and his economic policies have directly resulted in thousands of lost jobs in Florida. ... It’s easy to tout positive unemployment numbers when you stop counting the nearly 442,000 Floridians who have given up hope of finding work.”
Wyllie also had harsh words for Crist. “Amid all the half-truths and half-measures of Scott’s speech, he found time to place blame on his predecessor, former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist,” Wyllie said. “At least that’s one issue upon which Gov. Scott and I can partially agree. Florida has witnessed more government and less liberty under the last two Republican governors. Charlie Crist was a big-spending, job-killing governor. And despite all his rhetoric and spin, Rick Scott has just been more of the same.”
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.