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Politics

The Heat Is On in Increasingly Blistering Governor's Race

July 21, 2014 - 6:00pm
Floridas gubernatorial race is growing as hot as the Sunshine State in July as Republicans and Democrats launched blistering attacks on Tuesday.

The Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) launched a new line of attack on Tuesday against former Gov. Charlie Crist, the favorite in next months Democratic gubernatorial primary despite holding three statewide offices as a Republican. Defending Gov. Rick Scott, the RPOF launched a new webpage insisting Crist has offered nothing in terms of policy proposals.

While Rick Scott has outlined his vision for Floridas future with five policy roll-outs so far, Charlie Crist has spent his summer doing nothing except embarrassing himself with false attacks, said Leslie Dougher, the chairwoman of the RPOF. Random outbursts of public comment are not policy proposals, and Floridians dont want a governor whos only capable of name-calling and photo ops weve got plenty of that in Washington.

In the meantime, Scotts team launched a Spanish language ad that is being backed by $300,000 to run in markets across the state. The ad praises Scotts record on education with a teacher saying, in translation, Florida students are better off due to Scott.

Dougher kept her fire directed at Crist.

"Charlie Crists record on education isnt what Florida deserves, Dougher said on Tuesday. While he was governor, state education funding was slashed by nearly $1.4 billion, funding was cut for voluntary prekindergarten programs, and 3,000 Florida teachers were laid off. Whats worse, he signed legislation that allowed tuition to increase up to 15 percent every single year. Floridas kids and schools deserve better than what Charlie Crist served up for four years.

The Crist camp fired back on Tuesday with Jessica Clark, the new Democrats deputy campaign manager, trying to connect Scott with the Koch brothers.

The Koch brothers are uber-wealthy billionaires who want to repeal Obamacare, dismantle unions, repeal environmental protection laws, stop people from voting, privatize Social Security, prevent any increase to the minimum wage -- the list goes on, Clark insisted on Tuesday. These guys were some of the loudest voices in the state arguing against expanding health care to more than 1 million Floridians. Sound like any current tea party governor we know??"

Clark maintained the Koch brothers are going all-in to re-elect Rick Scott by helping fund millions of dollars in TV ads -- and on top of that, they've got a $6 million operational budget funding 10 field offices and 40 employees.

For his part, Scott continued touring the state promoting next generation jobs on Tuesday.

In order for Florida to remain a global hub for business, we have to make sure advanced industries are able to thrive and continue to create jobs and diversify our economy, Scott said. That means developing a well-educated workforce, eliminating roadblocks for job creators and investing in our research institutions. Florida has come a long way, but we have a long way to go and focusing on jobs for the next generation will ensure that we continue to create long-lasting, high-wage, more resilient careers."

In response, Joshua Karp, a spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party, insisted Scott was more concerned about his donors than he was average Floridians.

Rick Scott promised Floridians 1.7 million jobs over seven years, and he has failed to deliver," Karp said. Rick Scotts rhetoric just doesnt match reality, because hes not looking out for folks who need a job. Hes looking out for those at the top.

The dark horses in the race are also going on the attack. Trying to catch Crist in next months Democratic gubernatorial primary, former Florida Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich compared him to Scott on Monday. Noting Crist had spent most of his political life in the GOP, Rich insisted he and Scott were two peas in a pod. Rich pointed to a video of Scott putting off answering questions and compared it to Crists refusal to debate her.

Im sure youve seen the video by now Gov. Rick Scott standing for nearly a minute, seemingly unable to answer questions any governor ought to be able to answer, Rich insisted on Monday. "When you pair it with Charlie Crists refusal to debate, you get a picture of what our Republican governors think of voters one who cant answer, one who wont. Florida deserves better.

Libertarian Adrian Wyllie has also been throwing jabs lately, hitting Scott for dodging questions. Running away from one's record reeks of a leadership failure, Wyllie insisted. Florida deserves a real get-it-done governor.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

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