Florida’s Scott Hears Footsteps — Loudest Coming from Charlie Crist

Photograph by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Charles “Charlie” Crist, governor of Florida, waits for President Barack Obama to speak in Washington.

Updated at 3:45 pm EST

Florida’s Republican Gov. Rick Scott, a former chief executive officer at HCA Holdings, could lose his 2014 re-election bid to several hypothetical opponents, including former Gov. Charlie Crist, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and Tea Party supporter Allen West, according to poll results today from Public Policy Polling.

The survey showed Crist leading Scott by the largest margin: 53 percent to 39 percent.

Crist hasn’t denied rumors that he’s interested in winning back the seat he gave up in 2010, when he ran for U.S. Senate and became the first Florida governor to decline a chance for a second term. Crist, who ran for Senate as an independent after polling predicted him losing a Republican primary to now-Senator Marco Rubio, signed paperwork at a White House Christmas party last month to register as a Democrat.  He spoke at the Democratic National Convention that nominated President Barack Obama for re-election. (Obama carried Florida last year, as he did in 2008.) Crist had  served as governor, attorney general, education commissioner and a state legislator as a Republican.

The poll also showed Crist leading a primary field of potential Democratic candidates. He drew 52 percent support among Democratic voters. The next closest contender was the party’s 2010 nominee, former state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, with 18 percent support.

Wasserman-Schultz, a five-term congresswoman from South Florida, wasn’t included in a hypothetical primary. Her spokesman, Jonathan Beeton, has said she has no intention of running for governor.

Sink hasn’t announced her plans for next year.

West, a Republican who lost his re-election to the U.S. House in November, led Scott by 38 to 37 percent among primary voters in the survey. West announced yesterday that he’ll host a co-host a new Web show called Next Generation.

Today, West said he has no plans to challenge Scott.

“That’s one of the most asinine things I’ve ever heard,” West said.

Scott, who has acknowledged that the yellow Labrador he adopted during his 2010 race was returned to the rescue shelter after the campaign, has a 33 percent approval rating, according to the poll. He’s struggled with low approval ratings since taking office.

Still, the poll suggests Scott would win re-election against two potential Democrats: state Senator Nan Rich, who has announced a campaign for the seat, and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, who hasn’t said he’ll run.

PPP conducted automated telephone interviews with 501 Florida voters, including an over-sample of 401 usual Democratic primary voters and 436 Republican primary voters, from Jan. 11-13. The margin of error for the overall sample is 4.4 percent, 4.9 percent for the Democratic portion and 4.7 for the Republican portion.


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