At Statesman’s Dinner, Florida GOP looks to get out Scott’s message

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With little more than a year left before Gov. Rick Scott faces voters to ask for re-election, Republicans say they’re confident he can win what polls show to be an uphill battle — as long as he gets his message out, reports Brandon Larrabee.

Before 700 people gathered in a ballroom at Walt Disney World’s Contemporary Resort, Republican Party of Florida officials hammered home the same message: To borrow Scott’s catchphrase, it’s working. Now, they said, it’s time to sell that message.

“The governor has a record to run on and that record is a record that appeals to all Floridians,” RPOF Chairman Lenny Curry told reporters after the soiree, which lasted a little more than an hour.

He brushed off polls showing Scott behind his most likely Democratic opponent, former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, as “pretty irrelevant.” Not that speakers at Friday’s event weren’t willing to take a few shots at their one-time standard bearer. Curry included Crist’s bid as he ticked off the problems facing Democrats in the state.

“And they are on the verge of an arranged marriage with someone that has proven that he is unfit to govern: Charlie Crist,” he said, drawing boos from the crowd.

But the leading edge for Scott is clearly going to be the state’s turnaround, with Republicans saying Scott deserves credit for creating 365,000 private-sector jobs since taking office in 2011. 

It was a message Scott himself pushed in a video address to the dinner.

“We should be very proud and we should be bragging,” said Scott, stuck in Tallahassee to deal with Tropical Storm Karen as it churned off the Gulf coast. “We have had a significant economic turnaround in our state.”