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Potential Field for 2014 Governor's Race Begins to Emerge

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Buddy Dyer
Alex Sink

BRADENTON – Just a year ago, many Florida Democrats were hoping that Charlie Crist would jump ship and give them a viable gubernatorial candidate with statewide name recognition. Crist has since registered as a Democrat and his role in President Obama's re-election campaign made it pretty clear that the former governor plans to seek the nomination, but Governor Scott's low approval ratings have a lot of other potential candidates considering a run, making it clear that Crist will not have enjoy a walk through the park in a party primary.

Former Democratic state Senate leader Nan Rich of Weston is, so far, the only real candidate to have announced her intention to run. But last week, Former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz began testing the waters, adding another former independent to the potential mix. Diaz, who was Miami's mayor from 2001 to 2009, recently changed his registration from independent to Democrat – just like Crist.

Diaz served as head of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and has friends in high places. In fact, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg wrote the forward to Diaz's new book, Miami Transforme, the promotion of which has given him an excuse to hit the stump. If, as expected, Diaz files to run for the Democratic nomination, he would be considered a viable threat to either Crist or 2008 candidate Alex Sink, who is also considering throwing her hat back into the ring.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer is also considering a run. While he's not as well known as the others statewide, Dyer has proven himself politically adept and anytime he's been counted out, he's wound up on top. In fact, when it comes to intangibles, the Central Florida native and former state Senator might be best equipped for a run at the incumbent.

Despite Scott's record-low approval ratings, it will remain an uphill fight for Democrats who will be facing an extremely well-financed incumbent who enjoys the strong support of his activist base. All told, Scott had over $100 million dollars to defeat Sink in 2010, including over $70 million of his own money. He's expected to bring a similar war chest in 2014.

To counter the financial advantage, Democrats elected Allison Tant as Florida Democratic Chairwoman on Saturday. Tant, who has been a major fundraiser for both Senator Bill Nelson (D-FLA) and President Obama was recruited by Nelson and  Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to fill the essential role, as the party heads toward a pivotal race that could put the veto pen in their hand after relative obscurity, owed to Republican dominance at the state level.

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Manny Diaz Charlie Crist Nan Rich


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