Rick Scott launches TV blitz against Charlie Crist

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A full 365 days before Election Day, Gov. Rick Scott is launching television commercials in opposition of Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor who making a comeback run as a Democrat.

The first political spot attacking Crist aired on Channel 4 Monday morning -- a few hours before he formally announced his candidacy.

The two candidates are strikingly different in their styles, and are already making their case to the public.

Crist is described as a natural-born politician with the ability to reach across the aisle. Scott is a no-nonsense businessman who supporters say has fulfilled his promise of putting Florida back to work.

"I think Rick Scott is going to say, 'It's been my steady leadership that came in 2010, my policies, cutting the budget, making the government lean and mean to bring the business into the state of Florida,'" Marcella Washington, a political science professor at Florida State College at Jacksonville.

Washington said the biggest difference between Crist and Scott is their style. Even though Crist is now a Democrat, he's expected to showcase the work he did when he was a Republican.

"Charlie Crist can say he was a popular politician," Washington said. "Every office he's ever run for, except for one, he won. He has charisma, or he did. Let's see how he holds onto it as a Democrat."

Even though Crist is facing Nan Rich -- a long time Florida House and Senate member from Broward County -- for the Democratic nomination, Scott -- and perhaps Crist -- are looking beyond that at the General Election next November.

The two are expected to duke it out on TV in what could be one of the most negative and expensive campaigns in Florida history.

Scott is expected to hang his hat on cutting taxes and creating 365,000 jobs. And while in office, Florida unemployment rate has dropped 4.1 percent.

Crist is expected to highlight the changes he made to education during his term. He's credited with lowering the dropout rate, combating crime, and closing deals, regardless of political party.

Stephen Baker, a political science professor at Jacksonville University, said Crist's biggest challenge will be gaining voters' trust.

"People wont quite trust him, especially among the Democrats," Baker said. "He's a newcomer moving to the front of the line. That will put Democrats off."

Baker said one of Scott's biggest challenges will be earning the minority vote.

"I think all Republicans have to be aware that the image of the party is not really good with minorities, and they will have to be vigilant and show they are supportive of minorities," Baker said. "He will have to do more."

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