Former Gov. Charlie Crist and three members of the Cabinet were the first to qualify Monday to be on the 2014 ballot. Dozens of more candidates for state and local offices are expected to qualify before the noon Friday deadline.
Crist, a Democrat challenging incumbent Gov. Rick Scott, officially qualified Monday in what is expected to be the most expensive governor's race in state history.
"What I would not do is what Rick Scott has done," Crist said. "He’s taken almost an entire university and wiped it off the map by taking almost 30,000 Bright Futures scholarships. It’s unconscionable."
Scott was campaigning in Tampa on Monday but returned to Tallahassee in time to qualify.
"Well as we know Charlie Crist left us with a mess," Scott said. "He left me with a $3.6 billion budget deficit. But we turned around our economy. Charlie Crist lost 832,000 jobs when he was governor."
Republicans Yinka Abosede Adeshina and Elizabeth Cuevas-Neunder also qualified in the governor's race Monday.
Nan Rich, a former state senator and Democrat also challenging Scott, plans to qualify on Tuesday.
Candidates seeking statewide and local offices were allowed to start qualifying at noon.
Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner also qualified. The three incumbents are all Republicans.
Two people qualified Monday to run against Sen. John Thrasher in state Senate District 6: Republican Derek Hankerson and independent Greg Feldman. Thrasher, who is applied to be the new president of Florida State University, has also qualified.
Judicial candidates and candidates for U.S. Congress have already qualified.
Some candidates will be elected without opposition on Friday. Others' fate will be decided by voters in the Aug. 26 primary or the Nov. 4 general election.