Former State Senator Nan Rich likens her run for governor to that of three other successful Democratic governors, Reubin Askew, Lawton Chiles and Bob Graham.
Standing behind an array of microphones as she addressed the Tampa Tiger Bay Club luncheon Friday, Rich told the crowd of more than 50 that she is not discouraged by polls that show her trailing the perennially, unpopular Republican Gov. Rick Scott.
“I actually think it’s amazing that I am only 6 points down in a poll with the governor,” Rich said. “The governor is the governor. He was elected the governor. Charlie Crist’s name was in there. He was a governor. Bill Nelson’s name was in there. He’s a United States Senator. I’m a, you know, a former state senator.”
To date, Rich is the highest profile Democrat to declare as an official candidate. Former GOP Gov. Crist and former CFO Alex Sink, both from the Tampa Bay region, are reportedly considering seeking the Democratic nomination.
Rich believes her grassroots campaign can overcome her lack of name recognition outside of her home base in Broward County and her lack of campaign funds.
She got polite applause from the crowd when she criticized Gov. Scott's rejection of federal money for health care and the high speed rail.
And Rich called a self-describe conservative in audience mistaken when he asked her why she supported "big-government" and not “individual initiative.”
“I am very concerned that people in local communities have local control, not Tallahassee,” Rich said. “You know the governor has signed all kinds of legislation that takes away local control. I thought that’s what you cared about. I thought you believed that local control was better than having Big Brother or Big Sister up in Tallahassee or Washington.”
Rich got some unexpected backing from the Republican Party of Florida last week when GOP leaders pointed out that Rich was not allowed to speak at the statewide Democratic fundraising Jefferson-Jackson Dinner. The Democrats limited the event to three speakers: San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and U.S. Senator Bill Nelson.
Rich said she appreciated the free publicity.