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Politics

Rick Scott Shrugs Off Hypothetical Charlie Crist Challenge

September 9, 2012 - 6:00pm

If Gov. Rick Scott is hot and bothered at the prospect of a Democratic challenge from Republican-turned-independent former Gov. Charlie Crist, he isn't saying.

Speaking to reporters outside the Capitol on Monday, Scott responded to the speculation of Crist running for the governors mansion in 2014 by first giving a sigh regarding the line of questioning before saying he intended to concentrate on his job.

Every day Im going to do my job; I got elected on a campaign to get our state back to work, Scott said.Focus on the education system, make sure we keep the cost of living low, thats what Im going to do every day.

A poll conducted for the Florida Chamber of Commerce last week showed that Scotts focus on Hurricane Isaac, rather than on the Republican National Convention in Tampa, played well with Florida voters, boosting his favorability rating to 43 percent.

Meanwhile, Crist crossed the central part of Florida over the weekend, introducing President Obama at St. Petersburg College.

USA Today reported that Crist, who gave what has been described as a tepid address at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., last week, was given a hug by Obama at St. Petersburg College.

Crist has been haunted by a less firm clinch since 2009, when a public embrace was used to hound the governor as he unsuccessfully ran for U.S. Senate.

The campaign for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Miami, portrayed the hug as more than a courtesy greeting, painting the embrace as support for the $767 billion in deficit spending.

Two weeks ago, at a Florida delegation breakfast during the Republican National Convention, House Speaker-designate Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, cracked on Crists plans to speak at the Democratic convention, saying I didnt know a hug could be that powerful.

Crist told MSNBC on the eve of his Democratic convention speech that he doesn't think he'll challenge Scott because he's "enjoying the private sector very much."

However, a poll by St. Pete Polls, conducted of likely Democratic voters after the convention, had Crist given 60.9 percent of a hypothetical primary match-up against Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, state Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich, D-Sunrise, former Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and Sen. Rod Smith, D-Oakland Park.

Sink, the partys 2010 gubernatorial candidate, with 25.1 percent, was the only other person in the poll with more than 10 percent.

Crist also received a 73.1 percent favorability rating from the likely Democratic voters.

Rich, the only Democrat to have opened a campaign account for 2014, had a 13.3 percent favorability rating.

Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.

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