The 2012 election is barely in the books and already Florida politicos are turning their eyes to 2014, especially Democrats hungry to take back the Governor's mansion from the Republicans.
Increasingly, Democrats appear ready to embrace former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist as their best chance at winning in 2014. At the same time, Crist is taking a more vocal role in criticizing Gov. Rick Scott, even taking to Twitter to blast Scott's controversial decision not to extend early voting during the presidential election.
Crist certainly is a topic of news and speculation across Florida. Here is a sampling:
The populist former governor is undergoing a metamorphosis that is substantial even by political standards. He left his party in 2010 as a candidate for U.S. Senate, ran without party affiliation and lost to Republican Marco Rubio.
As an independent, he has since spent this election cycle campaigning aggressively for Obama, chastising his former party for an "extremist" agenda, and, in the last week, he has been accelerating criticism against Rick Scott.
When Scott refused to extend early voting hours as Crist had done in 2008, Crist tweeted "indefensible." When Scott defiantly defended his decision Friday, Crist sent out a link to his statement and added: "I don't think the people would agree, Governor."
MORE CRIST VS. SCOTT HEADLINES: Daily News: Think election's over? It's just beginning for Gov. Rick Scott and challengers; Herald-Tribune: Crist dipping toes back in politics, with Democrats
TWEET, TWEET: @CharlieCristFL: .@FLGovScott I don't think the people would agree, Governor. MT @HuffPostPol: Scott: "The Right Thing Happened"
"Florida Democrats have every right to be happy about the results of the general election. But they need to calm down a bit and face the reality that they've got a long way to go before they become a major player in Sunshine State politics again.
... A stronger Democratic Party actually would benefit the Republican Party, which has become increasingly arrogant in its use of power. Witness its creation of a costly 12th university when the state cannot adequately fund existings ones, solely because a powerful lawmaker demanded as much. Or its adoption of "election reforms" that made it more difficult to vote when there was no evidence of voter fraud."
There were some close calls and upsets in State House races. Here's a look:
Seminole County election workers were slogging through a state-mandated recount Sunday night that should determine once and for all the fate of state Rep. Chris Dorworth. As a machine recount progressed into the evening, Democratic challenger Mike Clelland's paper-thin lead over Dorworth grew by four more votes - to 127 out of nearly 74,000 cast.
But Clelland's margin remained less than one-quarter of one percent, likely ensuring that the machine recount would be followed by manual tally. Mike Ertel, the Seminole County Supervisor of Elections, said his goal was to complete the entire process by late tonight or predawn Monday.
LATE INFLUX OF PARTY MONEY MANY HAVE HELPED CARL ZIMMERMAN DEFEAT PETER NEHR IN HD 65 by Will Hobson of the Tampa Bay Times
Scott Arceneaux had just received the results of a poll that showed Zimmermann up 2 points, according to Zimmermann. "What do you think it will take to win this race?" Arceneaux asked.
"If you just get me $10,000, I can win," Zimmermann replied. "I promise."
On Oct. 26, the state party gave Zimmermann $10,000, according to campaign filings. As Zimmermann reflected this week on his upset win over Nehr, he pointed to that money - combined with $5,000 Pinellas County Democrats gave him Oct. 23 - as the difference between his 2006 and 2008 losses to Nehr and this year's victory.
FACEBOOK STATUS OF THE DAY via former Representative Peter Nehr
"... And for those of you who are still defacing my signs, turning them upside down, writing nasty stuff on them: gee whiz you won the election. What's your problem?"