Former Florida Governor Charlie Crist wants his job back in 2014, and a new poll shows him with a substantial lead over the state’s current governor, Rick Scott.
A new Quinnipiac University poll finds that Crist leads Scott 50 percent to 34 percent among Florida’s registered voters. The Washington Post reports that more voters say that Crist’s party switching shows that he is a pragmatist, not spineless.
Crist served as Governor from January 2007 to January 2011. He came under fierce criticism within the Republican Party after he came off as warm to President Barack Obama during the height of the health care debate. Crist stood no chance of surviving the Republican Party primary and decided to run for Senate instead. He lost the Senate primary to Marco Rubio and then lost to Rubio again in the general election. Meanwhile, Tea Party favorite Rick Scott was elected governor.
Much has changed in the two years since then. Scott is facing a cripplingly low approval rating going into his re-election campaign. Only 32 percent of voters believe Scott deserves a second term. Yet despite Scott’s low approval numbers, he remains the most popular candidate in the Republican primary. He beats Adam Putnam, Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner and a potential primary challenger, 47 percent to 24 percent.
The Tampa Bay Times reports that voters approve of Scott’s idea of a teacher pay raise and his opinion on Medicaid expansion, but they do not like him. Voters overwhelming support his proposal for a $2,500 across-the-board pay raise for teachers 74 percent to 21 percent, but a solid majority disapprove of his handling of the budget.
Crist endorsed President Obama in the 2012 election, spoke at the Democratic National Convention, and became a registered Democrat this past December. Crist scored many points with Democrats during this time for helping to get President Obama back in office. Now Crist intends to run against Scott as a Democrat and stands a good chance of securing the nomination despite being a member of the party for less than four months.
The election is over a year away, and Scott has his hands full if he does not want to be remembered as the guy who filled in while Crist took a break from his job.