Watch CBS News

Democrats Unite In Show Of Unity

FT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) - Now that the dust from the August Primary has settled, key members of the state's Democratic party are beginning to rally the proverbial troops in a run up to the November election.

To do some they are coming together in a show of unity.

Thursday morning former Governor Charlie Crist was joined by the woman he beat in the primary, former Senator Nan Rich, at a grassroots rally in Orlando to kick off their 68-day general election campaign. And they weren't alone.

Also in attendance were the Hon. George Sheldon; Rep. Perry Thurston, the man he beat in the primary to be the Democratic Attorney General nominee; Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Sen. Bill Nelson.

The show of unity, dubbed the "People's Team", moved south during the day and has another rally for the faithful scheduled in the afternoon at the Urban League of Broward's headquarters on NW 27th Avenue in Ft. Lauderdale.

While Scott and his supporters will not kick off their general election campaign until next week, the state's Republican party did issue a statement on the unity rallies.

"Voters should be asking Florida Democrats today why they are uniting behind Charlie Crist's failed record of massive job losses, higher debt and education cuts. Governor Scott has cut taxes and reduced debt while Florida has added over 600,000 new private-sector jobs and invested in our schools at record levels. Florida Democrats are uniting behind Charlie Crist's record of failure, but Floridians are going to unite against Charlie Crist on November 4th."

Some supporters say Scott's landslide victory over Rich shows he has what it takes to mount a serious challenge and defeat Scott in what is already shaping up to be one of the nastiest and most expensive battles in the state's history.

Crist and Sheldon, who is looking to oust incumbent Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi, admit it won't be easy.

But they say they're up to the task, even though some political experts have speculated that Scott and his supporters could spend as much as $100 million on the gubernatorial campaign.

"No matter how much money they spend, they will never have our grassroots," Democratic state Sen. Geraldine Thompson said. "Together we know we can win. We've done it before and will do it again if we stand united and knock on every last door and make every last phone call."

Schultz acknowledged Crist's past as a Republican governor, but she said even then Democratic lawmakers were able to work with Crist across the aisle because "at the end of the day, he was going to do what he thought was right for Florida's families."

"I'll admit there were times when I worked against him when he was governor," Wasserman Schultz said. "But there were also times when we worked together ... That's not the case with Rick Scott."

Wasserman Schultz faulted Scott for rejecting funding for high speed rail, Medicaid expansion and for limiting the number of early voting days.

Democratic activist Valleri Crabtree said that even though her candidate, Rich, didn't win, she was at the rally because Democrats have no choice but to stand together if they stand a chance of winning in November.

"Even though those who I supported may not have won, if Democrats are going to succeed, we should have a show of unity," Crabtree said.

Rich said she wanted to prove wrong the old Will Rogers quip, "I'm not a member of any organized party. I am a Democrat." She said unequivocally that Crist had her support.

"This is probably one of the earliest stages ever to unite the party," Rich said. "We stand here with the primary goal of making Rick Scott a one-term governor."

Crist thanked Rich for the show of support, so fresh from the primary loss, since "this kind of unity doesn't always happen in the Democratic Party."

"In 68 days, you, me and Florida are going to be Scott-free," Crist said.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)



View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.