Nan Rich, RPOF Capitalize on Democrats' Cold Shoulder
Around the State
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 email@example.com or at 904-521-3722.