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Online War Begins In 2014 Florida Gov. Race

The Florida Democratic Party is launching a campaign to expose who they say is the “Real Rick Scott”. Party officials say defeating Scott will be a challenge, especially since no big name Democrats have officially declared their candidacy for next year’s race.  

The Dems are taking to Twitter and Facebook in an effort to reach out to key independent voters.

The Democrats’ strategy against Republican Governor Rick Scott includes a website, Real Rick Scott.com, which state party chairwoman Allison Tant says is aimed at defining the Governor.

“In poll after poll Floridians have reported their total lack of trust in this Governor," Tant told reporters Thursday in a conference call. "Now with his reelection looming, we’ve seen him try to change his stripes and change his motivations and his real beliefs in an effort to win over independent and moderate voters. It hasn’t worked all year, and we are going to make sure it doesn’t.” 

Although Scott’s approval ratings remain low, they have improved in the months since the close of the legislative session. Democrats plan to run online ads in major newspapers across the state and use Facebook and Twitter to lure voters to whoever the Democratic nominee eventually is. But Democratic Party Executive Director Scott Arceneaux says despite Scott’s low approval ratings, defeating him won’t be easy:

“When you’ve got a governor who came into office who basically bought the Governor’s mansion with $80 million of his own money, and said last year he’s willing to spend another $100 million to keep it,  that’s going to give anybody pause and make people look at this seriously.”  

The only Democrat officially in the race is former State Senator Nan Rich. Still, the Republican Party of Florida has been gearing up to defeat former Republican Governor Charlie Crist, who GOP insiders consider the presumptive Democratic nominee. Chairman Lenny Curry says it makes for an interesting pretext to the race with 15 months to go before Election Day.

“It’s interesting they have Nan Rich who is a committed liberal, a committed progressive," Curry said. "She has been a member of the party for years...but the party elites don’t want to pay any attention to her. Regardless of who they put up as a candidate, they still have to run against Rick Scott’s record of job creation, of making sure our children are educated, the recovery in the housing market.”  

Florida GOP officials have waged their own social media campaign against Crist, including sending daily e-mails called “This day in Crist-ory” campaign, targeting the former governor’s record on the economy.  The party has also purchased all the content from a website called EmptyChairCharlie.com, which the Democrats used in 2008 to bash Crist in an election he won anyway. 

Copyright 2013 WFSU

Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas. She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. When she’s not working, Lynn spends her time watching sci-fi and action movies, writing her own books, going on long walks through the woods, traveling and exploring antique stores. Follow Lynn Hatter on Twitter: @HatterLynn.