Republicans and Democrats are already in heavy campaign mode for a governor's election that's 17 months away.
On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, held a news conference to demand Republican Gov. Rick Scott veto legislation that would block local governments from adopting mandatory sick time benefits.
The major pitch from Wasserman Schultz and others at the event at Children in the Spirit, a Pompano Beach preschool, was that if Scott doesn't veto the bill it would be especially bad for working mothers — a key voting bloc Democrats hope to energize.
"How many times have you looked over at the person in the cubicle next to you with a hacking cough or an incredible running nose … who you just can't believe came to work, but without paid sick leave there is no other choice," Wasserman Schultz said. "The failure to provide paid sick time is particularly challenging for women in the workforce."
Democrats don't yet have a challenger lined up to take on Scott. Former state Sen. Nan Rich is running, but the biggest potential names, former Gov. Charlie Crist and former state chief financial officer Alex Sink, haven't announced their plans.
That leaves Democratic surrogates with the job of countering the governor. They've unleashed blistering criticism of Scott in recent days for his veto of legislation that would make it easier to get temporary driver's licenses for so-called Dreamers, the young people in the country illegally because their non-citizen parents brought them here at a young age.
Groups of Democratic state legislators have been holding news conferences around the state and issuing impassioned statements on the issue. On Tuesday, Annette Taddeo-Goldstein, chairwoman of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party and a vice chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party, emailed supporters this assessment of Scott on the issue: "Rick Scott is crazy. … He thinks he can govern like this and have a chance at the polls next November."
The Democratic office in the Florida House of Representatives said it was calling attention to "Governor Rick Scott's Anti-Hispanic veto." Hispanic voters, who've been trending Democratic but have a history of voting for either party, may be the most sought after voting bloc in politics today.
Scott meanwhile is crisscrossing the state in campaign mode holding good-news, feel-good events, which often generate newspaper headlines and positive reports on TV news shows.
On Monday, for example, he visited Boca Raton to appear with the president and chief operating officer of Canadian-based GardaWorld Cash Services, who announced that it's hired 500 people in Florida in the last two years. Scott used the event to brag in front of newspaper reporters and TV cameras that his efforts to lure jobs from other states and countries are paying dividends.
Like previous governors, he often leaves Tallahassee to sign bills into law, virtually guaranteeing media coverage. Appearing last month Alonzo and Tracy Mourning Senior High School in North Miami, television images showed a crowd cheering as Scott signed a ban on texting while driving into law.
At the Pompano Beach preschool, Gloria Lewis and Nadege Moise, weren't focused on gubernatorial campaign politics.
Lewis, a waitress who works at Raven's Deli off Jog Road west of Delray Beach, and Moise, a single mother of a 15-year-old daughter who is a wheelchair attendant at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, don't have paid sick days. That's the subject they cared about.
Signing or vetoing the measure would have little immediate impact on people's lives. Wasserman Schultz and Fred Frost, director of government affairs for the South Florida branch of the organized labor-affiliated Jobs With Justice group, said they don't believe there are any benefits required by Broward, Palm Beach or Miami-Dade counties that would go away if Scott signs the measure into law.
But, they said, it would derail efforts that have already started in some places to push for laws requiring paid sick time. Frost said there's a push in Miami-Dade County and Orange County is planning a ballot initiative that would force businesses to provide sick time.
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