Nan Rich, RPOF Capitalize on Democrats' Cold Shoulder

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: June 14, 2013 3:06 PM

Lenny Curry and Nan Rich

With Democrats meeting this weekend to hold their Jefferson-Jackson fundraiser,‭ ‬former state Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich,‭ ‬the only major candidate to officially launch a gubernatorial campaign,‭ ‬is not speaking -- a fact that she and the Republican Party of Florida (‬RPOF‭) ‬are looking to capitalize on.‭

Despite being in the race for more than a year,‭ ‬Rich has gained little momentum as Democrats look to other candidates to be their standard bearer in‭ ‬2014‭ ‬against Gov.‭ ‬Rick Scott.‭ ‬Former Gov.‭ ‬Charlie Crist,‭ ‬who had been a Republican for most of his political career before joining the Democrats last year,‭ ‬is a possible candidate as is former state CFO Alex Sink whom Scott defeated in‭ ‬2010.‭ ‬While he has said he has no intention of running,‭ ‬U.S.‭ ‬Sen.‭ ‬Bill Nelson,‭ ‬D-Fla.,‭ ‬continues to leave the door open to running for governor in‭ ‬2014.‭

Rich sent out a message to supporters,‭ ‬looking to use her exclusion from the Jefferson-Jackson event to raise funds.‭

“I haven’t been invited to speak at the Florida Democratic Party Jefferson-Jackson fundraiser tomorrow night,‭” ‬Rich wrote on Friday.‭ “‬It seems to me that the Jefferson-Jackson fundraiser is exactly the kind of event where the party would want to feature a gubernatorial candidate who has been actively campaigning to defeat Rick Scott for the past year.‭ ‬But they have decided not to do so and that is entirely their decision to make.

“‬That decision,‭ ‬however,‭ ‬has not gone unnoticed by the media and scores of Democratic activists around the state who expected me to speak at J-J,‭” ‬Rich added.‭ “‬In fact,‭ ‬over the past few weeks,‭ ‬a number of news stories have been written about giving me‭ five‭ ‬minutes to speak at the event.‭”

Instead of focusing her fire on Democrats,‭ ‬Rich took aim at Scott.‭

“Whether I’m allowed to speak or not,‭ ‬it takes longer than‭ five‭ ‬minutes to describe the damage Rick Scott and his right-wing Republican cohorts have done to Florida,‭” ‬Rich insisted.‭ “‬It takes longer than‭ five‭ ‬minutes to talk about the billions of federal tax dollars that Rick Scott has foolishly rejected ‬--‭ ‬our tax dollars that are now benefiting other states‭! ‬It takes longer than‭ five‭ ‬minutes to explain how Rick Scott and the Republican-led Legislature have worked to undermine quality public education and block health care benefits to more than a million Floridians.‭”

Rich looked to rally Democrats to her cause by insisting she was a‭ “‬real Democrat‭”‬ -- a clear slap at Crist who went from the Republicans to running with no party affiliation to the Democrats in the span of two and a half years.‭

“It’s time for a Democrat‭ – ‬a real Democrat‭ – ‬to lead this state again,‭” ‬Rich insisted.‭ “‬I believe it’s time Florida’s priorities were based on Democratic values and principles‭ – ‬principles of fairness that put the needs of people first‭ ‬--‭ ‬principles that have guided me throughout my adult life and as an elected representative of the people.

“‬For more than a year,‭ ‬I’ve been traveling across Florida meeting with voters from the Panhandle to the Keys.‭ ‬Everywhere I go,‭ ‬people tell me they want a strong Democrat to lead Florida again,‭” ‬Rich wrote.‭ “‬I believe I am that Democrat.‭”

Lenny Curry,‭ ‬the chairman of the RPOF,‭ ‬was more than happy to help Rich’s cause.‭ ‬In recent weeks,‭ ‬the RPOF has gone out of its way to highlight Rich’s candidacy in an effort to help muddy the waters and ensure the Democrats have a competitive gubernatorial primary.‭

Curry encouraged Democrats on Friday to contact Nelson,‭ ‬U.S.‭ ‬Rep.‭ ‬Debbie Wasserman Schultz,‭ ‬D-Fla.,‭ ‬who is the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee,‭ ‬and rising Democratic star San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and demand they give up time from their speeches to Rich.‭

“It's become very clear that your party chair,‭ ‬Allison Tant,‭ ‬will not give the five minutes Senator Nan Rich deserves at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner tomorrow,‭” ‬Curry told Democrats on Friday.‭ “‬That's why you should ask U.S.‭ ‬Senator Bill Nelson,‭ ‬Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro‭ (‬all speaking at the dinner‭) ‬to donate‭ one‭ ‬minute and‭ ‬40‭ ‬seconds from each of their allotted speaking times to one of Florida's leading liberal voices.‭ ‬One minute and‭ ‬40‭ ‬seconds from each of those three speakers will give Senator Rich the five minutes she has requested.‭ ‬It is now on these three Democrats to do the right thing and make a small cut to each of their remarks,‭ ‬so that activists can hear from Nan,‭ ‬and Tant can keep the dinner short.‭”

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or at‭ 904-‬521-3722.

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