Tampa Congressman Jim Davis was the first Democrat to show up. He plunked down a check for just over $7,700, and officially became a candidate for governor. Outside, as supporters cheered, Davis made it clear that he was running against the last eight years.
Rep. Jim Davis, (D) Tampa, said, "And make no mistake about it. I am running against the special interests who think they own this Capitol.”
Then came Gainesville area state Sen. Rod Smith.
Sen. rod Smith, (D) Gainesville, said, “For a son of a farmer who didn’t finish high school, to get to come in and sign up for governor is a sign it’s a great country, you know? It really is.”
Smith left no doubt that he is also running against the last eight years of GOP control in Tallahassee.
Rod Smith said, “You know, it’s amazing that this government has privatized the things we ought to be doing, things like children and families and juvenile justice and corrections and now has put us into the one business we absolutely don’t belong in, and that is the casualty insurance business.”
These two Democrats have been running for governor for almost a year and a half, but in reality the race is just beginning.
Both Democrats trail their Republican counterparts by millions in fundraising. The challenge for the Democrats over the next seven weeks will be to distinguish themselves from one another.
Republican Tom Gallagher plans to file his qualifying papers for the governor’s race Tuesday. GOP rival Charlie Crist hasn’t said when he’ll file, but the deadline is Friday.