Rick Scott has yet to file for a second term for governor, but hes already drawn a primary opponent -- Elizabeth Cuevas Neunder, founder and CEO of the Puerto Rican Chamber of Commence of Florida, and a longtime Republican activist and candidate from Sarasota.
Neunder filed the paperwork to run for the Republican gubernatorial nomination on Monday.
If the name rings a bell, Neunder had a moment in the national political spotlight during the 2012 presidential election. During a debate between the Republican presidential candidates at the end of January 2012 right before the Florida primary, Neunder demanded to know why the field was ignoring Puerto Ricans and asked about their position on Puerto Rico becoming a state. Rick Santorum attempted to answer the question, but Neunder said she was not happy with his response.
While her role in the debate was clearly her moment in the sun, Neunder has attempted to run for office before with little success. In 1998, she tried to stand in the way of Jeb Bushs march towards the Republican nomination and, eventually, the governorship. After losing a contest for a Sarasota County School Board seat in 2004, Neunder was part of a crowded primary field bested by Doug Holder for an open state House seat. After Mel Martinez resigned his U.S. Senate seat, Neunder waged a campaign for then-Gov. Charlie Crist to appoint her to the vacancy.
At its website, the Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce of Florida makes some odd claims. Thanks to a small dynamic board of directors they have accomplished more than any large Chamber of Commerce in the short time since inception, the Puerto Rican Chamber of Commence of Florida claims about itself.
At the same site, Neunder claims to be on the list for appoitment for Lt. Governor of Florida. Based on her primary challenge to the incumbent governor, its safe to say that Scott will not appoint her to replace Jennifer Carroll.
While Neunder is unlikely to be able to take adavantage of it, polls taken earlier this year show a sizeable chunk of Republicans would be open to backing other candidates besides Scott for governor.
Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this story exclusively for Sunshine State News.