The Florida Democratic Party is launching a digital ad campaign intended to tell voters about what party Chairman Allison Tant called Republican Gov. Rick Scott's "real record, the one he won't tell them about" and his "extreme agenda." The campaign will consist of "tens of thousands of dollars"-party executive director Scott Arceneaux wouldn't be more specific than that-for ads on Facebook and other social media and newspaper web sites. The effort is partly a way to capitalize on controversies hitting the Scott administration over issues including education and the Stand Your Ground law, and partly to answer a recent uptick in Scott's approval numbers. "The troops are very energized right now, and this is a way for us to keep them focused on this governor's real record," Arceneaux said.
It also appears to be a way to try to keep Democrats interested at a time when there is no well-known Democratic candidate yet announced in the 2014 governor's race to provide a rallying point for the party. The centerpiece of the campaign, the RealRickScott.com web site, accuses Scott of "massive cuts to education," giveaways to corporations, hiking college tuition and disrespecting immigrants. Using digital ads provides an inexpensive way for the Democrats to answer what's expected to be a huge ad blitz by Scott, who's been raising millions for his campaign. Scott recently told a National Review interviewer he expects to have $25 million in his campaign account by the end of the year, and intends to use it to "define my opponent," meaning blast whoever runs against him. Tant acknowledged lack of a declared candidate puts the Democrats at a disadvantage in attempting to rally the troops against Scott. "Of course it would help" to have a well-known candidate in the field, "but we're not having a problem in the absence of one," she said in a conference call with reporters. "There is a lot of enthusiasm against Rick Scott." Former Gov. Charlie Crist and Alex Sink are both mulling the race, but neither has announced. Former state Sen. Nan Rich, who's respected within the party but doesn't have a statewide reputation, is the only prominent declared candidate. Asked to explain why no major Democrat has yet come out against Scott, Tant said, "They have the luxury of time so they're taking it." Scott's plans to spend up to $100 million on his re-election, plus his having spent more than $70 million of his own money to win the office in 2010, "would give anybody pause," added Arceneaux. Editor's note: A previous version of this story attributed quotes to spokesman Joshua Karp instead of executive director Scott Arceneaux.