Scott, Crist, State Cabinet Officials Qualify for the Ballot
Around the State
Monday marked the first day of qualifying for statewide office and some of the biggest names in Florida politics made the ballot as they look toward the August primaries and the general election in November.
After meeting with teachers earlier in the day, former Gov. Charlie Crist, the favorite for the Democratic nomination to challenge Gov. Rick Scott despite spending most of his political life as a Republican, filed his paperwork on Monday.
Crist was accompanied by Leon County teacher Sheria Griffin on Monday when he qualified for the ballot. “As governor, I'll be fighting for teachers like her!” Crist insisted.
Former Florida Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich, Crist’s leading primary opponent, is expected to qualify on Tuesday.
On the Republican side, Scott also qualified and released his assets and called for Crist to do the same.
“For the purposes of qualifying as a candidate for re-election, I have disclosed my financial assets today,” Scott said. “However, before that and immediately after filing, these assets were under the management of an independent financial professional in a blind trust in order to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.
“In order to provide even more transparency to the public, my wife Ann and I also voluntarily released the last three years of our tax returns,” Scott added. “I hope that Charlie Crist will follow our lead and take the same steps today by releasing his and his spouse’s tax returns. His immediate public production of these tax returns for 2011 and 2012 is important to provide the people of Florida the transparency they deserve.”
Also on the Republican side, both Yinka Abosede Adeshina of Tallahassee and Elizabeth Cuevas-Neunder of Sarasota each paid the $7,800 qualifying fee to put their names on the primary ballot against Scott.
A pharmacist by training, Adeshina calls for providing health care to all Floridians by 2017, improving diversification in the workforce and reducing unemployment across the state.
The founder of the Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce of Florida, Cuevas-Neunder was named “Business Woman of the Year" in 2005 by the Republican National Committee. Cuevas-Neunder’s platform calls for "restoring God, the state, and strong family values" to Florida, which is "a true melting pot of cultures, languages, and religions." During the 2012 presidential campaign, Cuevas-Neunder enjoyed a little limelight, asking the Republican presidential candidates their thoughts on Puerto Rican statehood.
However, Cuevas-Neunder has failed in her efforts to seek higher office. She tried to take on Jeb Bush in the Republican gubernatorial primary in 1998 but failed to make the ballot, being disqualified for not having a running mate. Cuevas-Neunder also failed in her efforts to win a seat on the Sarasota County School Board and an open Florida House seat, placing fourth in a four-candidate primary field.
Libertarian Adrian Wyllie also qualified for the ballot in the gubernatorial race on Monday. So did write-in candidate Keith Stegath.
In the three state Cabinet races, the Republican incumbents -- Attorney General Pam Bondi, CFO Jeff Atwater and Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam -- qualified for the ballot on Monday.
“It is an honor to serve Florida’s more than 19 million residents as state attorney general,” said Bondi on Monday. “Thanks to the strong partnerships and hard work of agencies and people across our state, Florida’s crime rates are at record lows – this is an important aspect of making Florida the greatest place to live, work, and raise a family.”
Bondi has drawn two Democratic opponents -- former DCF Secretary George Sheldon and House Minority Leader Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale -- while Tallahassee attorney Bill Wohlsifer is challenging her as a Libertarian. Businessman William Rankin is running against Atwater as a Democrat. Thad Hamilton, a Democrat who sat on the Broward Soil and Water Conservation District board of supervisors, is Putnam’s only opponent so far.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com. Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen at Allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter at @AllisonNielsen.