Gubernatorial, Cabinet Primaries Hold Little Drama
Around the State
Florida has had more than its share of dramatic statewide primaries in recent years but as voters go to the polls on Tuesday, this time out looks pretty calm.
After a squeaker against Bill McCollum in 2010, Rick Scott won’t be sitting on pins and needles on Tuesday night. Scott has two primary opponents: pharmacist Yinka Adeshina who ran for the presidency in 2012 and has already launched another bid for 2016 and Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce of Florida President Elizabeth Cuevas-Neunder. The governor will easily stomp his primary opponents and head to November when he’ll take on whoever wins the Democratic primary and Libertarian Adrian Wyllie.
Despite two credible candidates, the Democratic gubernatorial primary looks only slightly more competitive. Charlie Crist joined the Democrats at the end of 2012 and the party, desperate to win its first gubernatorial election since 1994, has welcomed him with open arms despite his many years positioning himself as a conservative Republican. Besides getting the support of Democrats on the national level, Crist has made major inroads with the rank and file of his new party.
Standing in Crist’s way is Nan Rich who led Democrats in the Florida Senate. Rich was in the race for almost two and and a half years but she never gained traction. Even after all that time, Rich is largely unknown to the primary voters and she simply failed to raise the money needed to compete statewide in Florida. The state party did Rich no favors by ignoring her calls for a debate with Crist. Rich will take the votes of some liberals who remain suspicious of Crist’s party and position changes but, when the smoke clears on Tuesday night, the new Democrat will walk off with his party’s nomination.
Down the ticket, there is only one primary for any of the three state Cabinet offices up for grabs in November. Democrats George Sheldon and Perry Thurston are battling it out to see who will take on Pam Bondi in the attorney general contest. Sheldon has the advantage for the moment but it’s not a good sign that polls show a plurality of primary voters remain undecided. Bondi has run circles around Sheldon and Thurston in fundraising and neither of the Democrats has done much to slow her down. Part of that comes from outside factors, including Sheldon having to fend off a challenge to his qualifications over a question of residency and Thurston having to head to Tallahassee for the special session over redistricting. Going into the primary, Sheldon has the lead but it’s not a comfortable one by any means. Whoever wins takes on Bondi and Libertarian Bill Wohlsifer in November.
In other Cabinet races, the Republican incumbents have no primary opponents and only face largely unknown Democrats come November. Jeff Atwater takes on Democrat William Rankin in the state CFO race. Adam Putnam will battle Democrat Thad Hamilton in the agriculture commissioner contest.
Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.