Democratic gubernatorial hopeful blasts governor

Published On: Jan 30 2013 04:41:08 PM EST
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nan Rich blasted Gov. Rick Scott on several fronts Wednesday, saying she would be best suited to get Florida back on the right track.

Rich criticized the first-term governor and Republican Legislature for prioritizing "a right-wing agenda" she said is harmful to the state.

"There are few decisions that Gov. Scott has made that have been good for Florida," Rich said during a half-hour appearance at The Associated Press' 19th annual legislative planning meeting that attracts some 100 newspaper editors and broadcast journalists. "I'm definitely a fed-up Floridian."

The former state senator from Weston said Scott tried to make it harder to vote in the 2012 election by signing off on controversial bill that some saw as an attempt to limit minority voting. She also said he took money out of the education budget during his first year in office and delayed Florida's implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

She said Scott ignored his own job initiatives when he rejected a $2.4 billion federal grant for high-speed rail and the thousands of jobs that may have resulted.

Scott, who spoke earlier to the group, has adjusted his position on the controversial 2011 bill (HB 1355) and limited the number of early-voting days and added provisions some saw as making it more difficult for young and minority voters to cast ballots. Scott is now asking to expand the number of early voting days.

He also said he plans to ask the Legislature for a $1.2 billion increase in spending for public schools, which could create a clash with GOP lawmakers.

Rich, 70, is considered an early longshot in the race, with speculation still surrounding former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist - now a Democrat - and the unsuccessful 20120 Democratic nominee, Alex Sink, still pondering the Democratic contest.

She noted that former Govs. Reubin Askew, Bob Graham and Lawton Chiles were all relatively unknown state senators who overcame long odds to become governor.

Rich spent a dozen years in the Florida Legislature where she was a strong voice on education and health care issues. Rich announced her intention to seek the Democratic nomination in April and has been traveling the state to increase her profile with voters.