“We” need to share with Floridians who we are ad democrats, and why, if the Democrats are in charge in Tallahassee, their lives will be different.”

Sink said Democrats need to reach out to the business world, and tell them why Democratic priorities – such as expansion of the Medicaid health program for the poor – would be good for them. “We can’t cede that territory to the Republicans.”

 

Nan Rich

Nan Rich, the only Democratic candidate for governor who is officially in the race, has been traveling the state for the past year.

She’s made more than 200 campaign stops, something she said would pay off in next year’s primary and general election. “I believe strongly very strongly in grassroots activism. I come from community activism. It re-elected Barack Obama and will elect the next governor of the state,” she told a gathering of Democratic state representatives.

Rich said she’s finding women are ready for the state’s first female governor, to which state Rep. Reggie Fullwood, D-Jacksonville, yelled out, “Some men are too.”

In a comment aimed at likely gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist – who was a Republican when he was governor before and is now a Democrat – Rich described herself as “a lifelong Democrat. I have certain values and priorities and you all know what they are because you all share them. The truth is so many people around this state share them.”

Rich brought her message to small groups meeting throughout the day, including a bout 60 people gathered for the meeting of state legislators and about 100 people at the state Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Caucus.

But she was denied a speaking slot at the big dinner, where more than 1,200 people are expected. The state Democratic Party leadership said it’s to streamline the program after complaints the dinner usually lasts too long; Rich supporters think the party leaders are trying to grease the skids for Crist.

Rich has received a publicity bonanza in recent weeks over the state party’s decision

“This is kind of a blessing in disguise because the media attention … is incredible,” she said. Reporters who didn’t give her campaign any attention “now all of a sudden they’re calling and wanting to know what I have to say.”

Republicans have had a field day accusing Democrats of silencing one of their own. Their “Free Nan Rich” campaign includes mailers and an automated Robocall to Democrats, and a drumbeat of press release taunting the Democratic Party leadership.

Rich said she’s been getting good consideration from grassroots party activists. She said 300 people she’s met from her year of campaigning attended a Friday night reception.

Even though she isn’t well known, Rich said there’s a long history of Democrats who weren’t well known when they began their campaigns going on to win statewide races

Regardless of what happens in the primary, Rich said, Democrats will be unified to oust Gov. Rick Scott.

“We have all the evidence out there why this man should not be re-elected governor,” she said.

She said it was “unconscionable” for the Republican-controlled Legislature not to accept money from the health care law known as Obamacare.

She said the failure to accept $51 billion from the federal government would have provided health care for 1 million Floridians and created about 120,000 jobs over 10 years.

Randy Fleisher, president of an unofficial Democratic group called the Davie Dem Club, was sporting a “Nan” sticker.

He said Rich has “great credentials.”

He said he’s frustrated that some in the party leadership appear to be eager for a Crist candidacy.

“The party hierarchy is looking for a messiah to come in and win Florida.

“It doesn’t make any sense for me that the Democratic Party is waiting for Charlie Crist. I remember Chain Gang Charlie,” he said. “He’s a charmer, but that’s not what I want in a governor. I want somebody who’s right on the issues, and has been there since the beginning. Not somebody who is a wily weather vane. His big trick is spinning in the wind.”