Alex Sink. Nan Rich. Charlie “Weather Vane” Crist. The first two aren’t exactly household names, which is sad because Ms. Sink spent a lot of money trying to become just that the last time around. “Nan Rich” elicits a shrug anywhere north of PGA Boulevard, and Charlie’s “Democrat” label hasn’t even been through one wash cycle yet.
Never have the conditions been so ripe for a gubernatorial takeover. Rick Scott, an awkward character, hasn’t managed to connect with average Floridians. His record of preferential treatment for businesses — using the rationale that what’s good for business is good for jobs— is not only flawed (a lot of tax breaks have been rewarded for little return on the investment) but also easily exploited by the opposition to support the idea that he doesn’t care about the little people.
Just about anyone with a pulse could do respectably well for the Democrats, based solely on the anti-Scott vote. What Scott has in his favor is the assurance that he will spend scores of millions of dollars to slime his opponent the moment one surfaces. This could backfire, since Floridians, by and large, only vote for someone they’ve heard of. A take-no-prisoners, scorched-earth Scott campaign would provide free publicity for the Democratic nominee. If you detest Scott enough, publicity equals credibility.
Scott can point with pride to rising employment figures, but the jobs aren’t of the quality they were before the Great Recession hit. Also, the Misery Index remains high — a lot of people have been thrown out of their homes, and those who remain face relentless hikes in insurance and other fixed expenses (like local property taxes) with no corresponding increase in job compensation.
Scott bucks a simplistic streak in the Florida electorate, which holds that the guy in charge gets blamed for everything, whether he deserves it or not. It’s Florida Democrats’ election to lose. If there’s one thing they’ve shown themselves to be adept at, though, it’s losing statewide elections.