Tuesday is it. After being fed platforms and hearing gubernatorial candidates debate issues for several months, Florida voters will now select the best man – or woman – they feel can do the job.
With attention now moving to Tampa lawyer Bill McBride because of his sudden jump in voter polls, no one is sure who the victor will be on Tuesday.
“It’s a toss-up,” said FAMU adjunct political science professor Deveron Brown. “Both (Janet Reno and McBride) have strong constitutes and have done well campaigning, but the Democratic Party seems to be pushing for McBride at this point.”
McBride, who was well behind Reno in the polls last spring, is now neck and neck with the former U.S. attorney general. State Sen. Daryl Jones, D-Miami, who has lagged a distant third since the race began, has also seen a rise in voter polls, according to a poll conducted by the Tallahassee Democrat and other Florida newspapers and broadcasters. Jones now shows 8 percent of the votes, according to the poll.
Nicole Harburger, a Reno spokesperson, told The Associated Press that the polls do not frighten the Reno campaign.
“We are keeping our eyes on the most likely Democratic primary voters and where they are leaning,” Harburger said. “From internal polling we’ve seen, Janet still continues to enjoy a very comfortable lead amongst most likely primary voters.”
This gubernatorial election race will also bring some firsts to Florida.
Sen. Jones is the first black candidate to make a serious run for governor since Reconstruction. Reno is trying to become the first female governor of Florida. And Gov. Jeb Bush, the Republican gubernatorial candidate, who won’t come into play until the general election in November, is trying to become the first Republican governor to be re-elected.
Reno, the former U.S. attorney general, is for character education in public schools and has laid out her affordable prescription drug plan for Floridians and said she believes fixing Florida’s education system is key to Florida’s future.
Jones, who has 12 years experience as a state legislator, said he would propose a 5 percent raise over the next four years for state workers. As governor, Jones said he would focus on diversifying Florida’s economic base beyond tourism and agriculture, generating up to $2 billion for Florida health care, inmate rehabilitation and rebuilding Florida’s education system.
McBride, the only candidate with no public service experience, said if elected governor he would give $1 billion to Florida’s public education system and revamp Florida’s Department of Children and Families.