TALLAHASSEE -- Florida's gubernatorial showdown is already a two-horse race in the eyes of many.
Rich filed the qualifying paperwork in Tallahassee Tuesday, pledging to take on Gov. Rick Scott - but also taking jabs at her party's frontrunner.
“When I announced my candidacy for governor a little over 2 years ago, I was answering the call of a growing chorus of Democratic voices rising across Florida," Rich said in a statement after qualifying. "They were the voices of voters and activists who were frustrated with the failure of the last 3 Republican governors to offer real leadership to help solve Florida’s critical problems or to face the challenges ahead.
The shot at Crist -- the former Republican governor re-inventing himself as a Democrat -- will likely be a constant theme this summer as Rich attempts the low-probability task of stopping the man seen as the best chance for Democrats to take back the Governor's Mansion in 16 years. Despite being a candidate for two years, Rich has raised only $378,658 -- about 3 percent of Crist's total $11.9 million raised in less than seven months.
"We can get our state back on the right track if we reset priorities and focus on making Florida better for its people – all of its people," Rich said.
"That means investing in our public schools, colleges, and universities; ensuring heath care is available and affordable to all; creating new jobs and opportunities for all Floridians; defending women’s reproductive health rights; protecting Florida's fragile land and water resources; and protecting those among us who are at greatest risk – our children and frail elderly."
Scott and Republicans have tried to use Rich to their advantage by blasting Crist for refusing to debate her. Scott himself has drawn two GOP primary challengers, and demurred Tuesday when a reporter asked if he was open to debating them.
"I haven't even met them," Scott said.
One is Yinka Abosede Adeshina, a Tallahassee resident who listed only $8,000 in assets in a checking account, no income and paid the $7,816.38 qualifying fee this week.
The other is Elizabeth Cuevas-Neunder, a Sarasota woman who touts her Hispanic heritage and has an actual Web site.