Florida's next gubernatorial election is more than two years away, but if Gov. Rick Scott's popularity remains below sea level, there's a good chance a Democrat could emerge victorious for the first time since 1994. The question is, of course, which Democrat?
State Sen. Nan Rich, the top Democrat in the state Senate and the only woman with a top leadership spot in the Florida Legislature, just announced she will run.
Term limits will force Rich out of her role next year, and the longtime Florida lawmaker tells the Sun-Sentinel that she's throwing her hat into the ring to challenge Scott.
Rich is known as one of the few strong liberal leaders even within the state's Democratic party, but she doesn't think she's too far to the left to win a primary or the top prize.
"I guess the voters will have to decide that. I feel that I am a progressive Democrat," she tells the Sun-Sentinel. "But I am known for my work in the policy arena trying to develop good public policy, and I work well with my colleagues across the aisle."
Florida Democrats have what people in politics call a bench problem. Compared to their GOP counterparts, there are very few young and exciting politicians being groomed for higher office. The party settled on Kendrick Meek as the sacrificial lamb to run in the 2010 Senate race (and mind you, a stronger candidate might have left less room for Charlie Crist to run as an independent). In the race to challenge Miami-Dade Rep. David Rivera, the party has fumbled through candidates and now appears saddled with a Broward resident with no political experience.
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Rich, who represents portions of western Broward including Weston, and a geographically humongous but lightly populated area of West Miami-Dade, certainly has the experience and could be an exception to her party's electoral problems. However, she's 70 years old and would celebrate her 73rd birthday just a few weeks into her first term if elected.
Former CFO Alex Sink narrowly lost to Scott in 2010, and numerous polls taken since then show she could beat Scott this time around. She'd certainly be the frontrunner if she decided to try again.
Though, there are always murmurs of former governor Charlie Crist completing his political transition and registering as a Democrat to run against Scott (but thanks to a new party-jumping law, he'd have to change his party registration sometime in the next year, so keep an eye out for that).