Crist, who served a single term as governor as a Republican, wins the Democratic nomination to face off with incumbent Republican Scott
TALLAHASSEE, Florida (CFP) — This November, Florida voters will choose between their current governor and his immediate predecessor in what’s likely to be an expensive and pitched battle for the state’s top job.
Former Governor Charlie Crist won the Democratic nomination for governor in the August 26 primary, besting former State Senator Nan Rich with 74 percent of the vote. Republican Governor Rick Scott, 61, did even better in his primary, taking 88 percent against two little known opponents.
Crist’s win caps a remarkable political makeover for a man who started out in politics as a conservative Republican, serving as attorney general before getting elected governor in 2006.
In 2010, he gave up the governorship to pursue an open U.S. Senate seat. When he fell way behind the eventual winner, GOP U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, in the polls, he bolted the GOP and ran unsuccessfully as an independent. in 2012, after endorsing President Obama for re-election, he became a Democrat and then jumped into the governor’s race.
In her campaign, Rich tried to make the case to Democrats that, unlike Crist, she was a longtime party loyalist. But her campaign never caught traction.
In a victory speech to supporters in Fort Lauderdale, Crist said the general election will be “about making sure that Floridians get their Florida back.”
“Our Florida is one where fairness and opportunity trump money and partisanship,” he said. “Our Florida is one where common sense and compassion come before cynicism and cronyism. And most importantly, our Florida is one where the government works for and answers to the people, not the special interests.”
Scott did not make a public speech on election night, instead releasing a statement saying the November election will be about “talk versus action.”
“That means Florida will have a choice between a governor who sent our state into a tailspin and a governor who gets results,” he said. “Charlie Crist failed as governor, lost 830,000 jobs, and tried to run off to Washington – and now he wants his job back.”
Scott, an multimillionaire former health care executive, pumped $75 million of his own money to win the governorship in 2010 in his first run for political office. He is expected to have a significant financial advantage over Crist in a state with numerous, expensive media markets, although Crist has so far raised more than $20 million.
Polls show the race as a dead heat with a little more than two months left before the general election.