Late Tuesday, former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre, a Democrat, jumped party lines to back Republican candidate Rick Scott for governor over state CFO Alex Sink, the Democratic nominee.
"On Nov. 2, I will vote for Rick Scott to be governor of Florida, said Ferre, who served six terms as mayor. I have never voted for a Republican in the 54 years I have voted, and I have never missed voting since I became of age in Miami.
Ferre had run in the Democratic primary for the nomination for the U.S. Senate election, but with the emergence ofbillionaire candidate Jeff Greene as the chief challenger to U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, Ferre proved to be a nonfactor in the contest. Ferre pulled just under 5 percent of the vote in the primary back in August, placing fourth behind Meek, Greene and health educator Glenn Burkett.
Ferre offered harsh words about the leadership of his party and said his treatment by the Democratic establishment during the Senate campaign contributed to his decision to back Scott.
"Despite the fact that I am a Democrat, I am deeply disturbed by the exclusionary direction of the Florida Democratic Party, he said. Even though I was the first Hispanic Democrat elected to the Florida state Legislature and the first Hispanic Democrat elected mayor of a major U.S. city, I was denied the opportunity to address the Florida state Democratic convention and denied the opportunity to participate in the Democratic U.S. Senate debates. This 'politics of exclusion' is an insult to every Hispanic voter in our state. Too many 2010 Democratic office seekers stood by silently as these injustices were perpetrated.
Ferre also offered stern words for the Republicans.
"Both the Republican and Democratic parties of Florida are broken. The first, by corruption and lying; the Democrats by ineptitude, unfairness and undemocratic ways, he added. Mine will not be a vote for a political party; mine will be a vote for a person.Ive spent time with Rick Scott.We talked about substantive issues. I am convinced Rick Scott has a superior understanding of the challenges that face our state.
Despite Scotts political inexperience, Ferre had faith in his abilities to fight for Florida.
"I know Rick Scott will fight for Floridas fair share of federal funds, which we do not get now, nor have we for the past three decades, said Ferre. "I believe Rick Scott will work to rebuild our infrastructure, especially in the area of transportation; our essential airports; improving our cargo ports; to act as engines of economic development. When he is elected, I will continue to press him on the issue of high-speed rail.
Ferre said he thought Scott could help improve the states economy by focusing on opportunities with Latin America and growth industries.
The former Miami mayor threw a subtle jab at the Obama administration in his endorsement of Scott.
"These are not times for the constraint of timid political souls, said Ferre. We need the audacity and boldness that was promised in 2008 to create jobs and pull us out of this economic ditch. In 2010 it is Rick Scott who offers Floridians that audacity. While I do not agree with Rick Scott on many of his political positions, I believe he has the best understanding of how to create jobs, our highest priority in Florida. The audacity of hope for Floridians requires bold and visionary moves. Rick Scott has the ability to make these moves and change the governors impact in a now-bureaucratic Tallahassee.
"My support for Scott for governor is, thus, based on this assessment that outweighs all other considerations, said Ferre in conclusion. Florida needs a sound economy and Floridians need jobs and economic prosperity. Those are Rick Scotts strengths.
With polls showing the race to be close, both sides are looking to tap into the others base. Ferre is the most high-profile Democrat to back Scott. Sink has had prominent Republicans endorse her campaign, including Sen. Alex Villalobos of Miami and two county sheriffs. The Sink campaign has launched a Republicans for Alex website and Facebook group which has more than 1,100 members.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (850) 727-0859