Gubernatorial Candidates Take Off the Gloves

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: April 23, 2014 3:55 AM
Charlie Crist and Rick Scott

Charlie Crist and Rick Scott

Even with Floridians’ attention focused on the Legislature’s final days of the session and the battle for an open congressional seat in Southwest Florida, the leading gubernatorial candidates continue to battle and maneuver for position as November looms. 

Former Gov. Charlie Crist, the favorite for the Democratic nomination to challenge Gov. Rick Scott despite spending most of his political life in the GOP, spoke to Capital Tiger Bay and called on the Legislature to pass bills giving in-state tuition benefits to the children of undocumented aliens. Scott has called upon the Legislature to pass the bill though Crist had opposed similar legislation earlier in his career.

Crist also insisted he was the underdog in the race, even as he continues to refuse to debate or acknowledge former Florida Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich. “I am running against 100 million dollars,” Crist insisted on Tuesday before ignoring Rich who is trying to debate the newly minted Democrat. “Nobody else is really doing it but me.”

Noting that Crist had opposed in-state tuition for illegals back in 2006, Lenny Curry, the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF), came out swinging at the former governor on Tuesday.

“Charlie’s extraordinary lack of self-awareness is something for the record books,” Curry said. “He has a world-class knack for distorting the truth, running away from his record and saying whatever is convenient for his own personal benefit. He opposed in-state tuition while he was running for governor.”

Scott's campaign also swung away at Crist on the matter.

"Charlie Crist has no moral authority or credibility on higher education,” said Greg Blair, a spokesman for the Scott campaign, on Tuesday. “Not only did he oppose in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants when he last ran for governor; he raised the price of a college education on Florida families, signing legislation that allowed tuition to increase by an additional 15 percent each year. Gov. Scott is fighting to right Charlie Crist's wrongs this legislative session, so that students who have spent their childhood here in Florida can get an affordable education."

Despite drawing fire from the RPOF and Scott’s team, Crist attempted to rally Democrats behind him on Tuesday.

“I'm going to do whatever I can to make sure our volunteers have every resource under the sun,” Crist informed supporters as he pointed toward opening his first campaign office over the Easter weekend. “The incredible energy on Saturday showed me how hungry the people are for change. And that hunger is going to take us over the top on Nov. 4th."

While Crist looked to reel in Democrats, Scott’s team has been concentrating on Hispanic outreach this week. Let’s Get to Work, a group affiliated with Scott, is launching a new television commercial in Spanish titled "Opportunity."

The ad was unveiled on Monday and will begin airing in Fort Myers, Miami, Orlando and Tampa starting Wednesday. Let’s Get to Work is spending $500,000 to air the ad, which focuses on Scott’s personal story.

“I have met many good people who serve in elected office, but I have never seen anyone with as much focus and determination as Gov. Scott,” said Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera on Monday. “His story is one that all Floridians can relate to: working hard through difficult circumstances to live the American dream. When it comes to making Florida the No. 1 place to create jobs and educate our children, Gov. Scott’s life experience drives him every day.”

The Scott team doubled down on their Hispanic outreach on Tuesday as they unveiled a website in Spanish. The website, rickscottporlaflorida.com, went live Tuesday.

“We are making an historic effort to reach all communities and share Gov. Scott’s message of economic growth and opportunity for all Floridians,” said Lopez-Cantera. “Gov. Scott is working hard to make sure that Florida will continue to be the best state in the country to find a good job, educate our children, and give our families every opportunity to succeed.”

In the meantime, Libertarian Adrian Wyllie weighed in on SB 1714, a bill impacting microbreweries in Florida and took off the gloves to go after Scott.

“Growing up in Dunedin, in Pinellas County, I have seen firsthand how this growing industry helps the local economies,” Wyllie noted about craft brewers. “This industry cannot be regulated away because of large campaign donations from the Big Beer industry.

“Rick Scott has taken $12,000 in donations and another $50,000 in his Let's Get to Work PAC,” Wyllie added. “The Republican Party of Florida has received more than $280,000 in just one election cycle from the people who would benefit most from this new law, namely, large distributors and brewers like Anheuser Busch."

Wyllie ripped into “corporate payoffs for regulations that destroy small business.”

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

Comments (6)

Dale F. Doelling
10:03AM JUN 21ST 2014
As a native Floridian, I can't recall a time when the citizens of our state had such a clear choice for Governor in 2014. We can choose the two-headed dragon (Scott/Crist) OR we can choose a true dragon slayer (Adrian Wyllie). With the former, you get cronyism and political favors, with the latter you get a principled leader who will always to what's right for ALL of the citizens of Florida. Adrian Wyllie for Governor!!
Fernando Lamigueiro Rodriguez
4:14AM MAY 28TH 2014
Running against 100 million dollars isn't a bad idea if they are on a pallet with wheels under it!
2:55PM APR 24TH 2014
Charlie Crist has no volunteers. They are bought and paid for. Every "supporter" at the Broward office opening this past Sat. was a day worker. One even asked me if they could wave my Democrat for Debate sign. Scott and Crist are both intent on buying this election at the expense of the people of Florida. Vote Nan Rich for Governor
Ron R
5:39PM APR 23RD 2014
Love to read the coverage for Wyllie! Thanks! And love how Wyllie is actually one who does INDEED Take A Stand for the small business owner! Want a Governor not bought & sold by special interests - and not groomed and rehearsed to be someone he's not? then vote Wyllie!
Jim Burkiewicz
3:38PM APR 23RD 2014
Adrian Wyllie is a breath of fresh air, we need this good honest man to take the Governor's office!
Ken Willey
11:41AM APR 23RD 2014
Thanks for covering Adrian Wyllie. He's the only one mentioned in this article that I will consider giving my vote.

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