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Rick Scott has Miami on his Mind

January 15, 2014 - 6:00pm

Rick Scott focused on voter-rich Miami-Dade County this week as he looks to shore up his support in November.

Around 475,000 Miami-Dade residents voted in 2010, which made up about 9 percent of the total number of Floridians who cast their ballots. Alex Sink beat out Scott in Miami-Dade, 56 percent to 42 percent in 2010. Other Republicans did better, though. In the 2010 Senate race, local boy Marco Rubio took 45 percent here while Democrat Kendrick Meek, another favorite son from Miami-Dade, carried 30 percent (well above the 20 percent he took across the state) and Charlie Crists no-party-affiliation bid got 25 percent.

Scott will probably not carry Miami-Dade in November but he does need to come close to where he was last time out to win. Crist is now a Democrat and should be Scotts main opponent. But Crist didnt exactly impress here, either, in 2010 or when he was still a Republican running against Jim Davis back in 2006. Certainly Crist should do better in Miami-Dade now that hes a Democrat and he does have one of the areas most promising Democrats behind him in Dan Gelber. It would surprise nobody if Gelber ends up as Crists running mate.

So Scott has to ensure he can at least break 40 percent in Miami-Dade and he took a few good steps to do exactly that this week. One was in naming Carlos Lopez-Cantera as lieutenant governor. Besides the good press for naming Floridas first Hispanic lieutenant governor, Scott picked a proven winner. While he did lose a state House race back in 2002, Lopez-Cantera bounced back in 2004 and won a House seat after redistricting. He kept the seat three times before running for and winning Miami-Dade property appraiser in 2012. Besides helping push Scotts agenda through the Legislature, Lopez-Cantera should at least help round up some votes for the governor in Miami-Dade.

Scott certainly showed Miami-Dade was on his mind this week. Besides announcing Lopez-Cantera as his running mate on Tuesday, Scott was in Miami to talk about adding funding to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) on Tuesday. Scott was back in the area on Thursday pushing his jobs message and economic agenda, what really is his bread and butter, in Miami. Expect to see more of him in Miami-Dade in the months to come.

Democrats should carry Miami-Dade over Scott in November but if he can keep it from being a 25 percent blowout, like he did against Sink, he will be competitive at the state level. With Scotts impressive fundraising lead, Democrats will have to spend money in this expensive market instead of spending it in more needed areas. This week, Scott showed he intends to fight in Miami-Dade, meaning Democrats will have to open up their wallets and spend here.

Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis piece exclusively for Sunshine State News.

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