Scott won't have either of those advantages this year. Crist's campaign team is loaded with President Barack Obama's campaign aides, including former Obama campaign manager Jim Messina, who helped boost Obama into the White House, both times with Florida's help.

Scott backers are using his record of lower unemployment, more jobs and a statewide economic comeback to persuade voters to give him another term.

"While likeability is important, the bottom line is going to be is this guy going to be better for my family on the economic front," Wilson said.

And money will help Scott on both fronts, Wilson predicted.

"The fact of the matter is that when Rick Scott comes to play he is bringing the heavy artillery and outside groups are bringing the heavy artillery into this thing," he said. "Charlie is going to have to fight back against an awful lot."

But Steve Schale, who ran Obama's campaign in Florida in 2008 and is one of Crist's chief aides, argues that Crist will have ample resources to hold his own, especially in a year when Democrats are fired up to unseat the incumbent.

"There's this perception that there's going to be unlimited money. It's not like it's going to be only a Rick Scott negative campaign against Charlie Crist and Charlie Crist is just going to have his name on the ballot," Schale said. "It's going to be a conversation. It's not going to be like Pepsi and Tab or Ford and the Malaysian Proton."

But GOP operative J.M. "Mac" Stipanovich, who's backing Scott, disagreed, saying he'd rather have more money than be the candidate voters would rather have a beer with.

"If I've got $100 million and you've got $50 million, I can spend $50 million with my foot on your face and I can spend $50 million on pictures of me and my grandchildren," Stipanovich said. "If you've got $50 million, you're probably going to have to go further with your foot on my face than with pictures of the grandchildren you don't have."

A "race to the bottom" will ultimately hurt Scott, Schale said.

"If their plan is to make this a race about who is the least desirable person to be in public office, I don't think that's the winning strategy for them. If people are forced to pick between the lesser of two evils, that's not necessarily a good place for Scott," he said.