Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott has won re-election, turning back former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist — who was trying to return to office as a Democrat.
The Associated Press declared Scott the winner Tuesday night with nearly all precincts reporting. He held nearly 49 percent of the vote to Crist’s nearly 47 percent.
The 61-year-old Scott overcame a late deficit in some polls to post the win. His campaign emphasized the drop in the state’s unemployment rate and criticized Crist as a political opportunist and supporter of President Barack Obama. In the final days, Scott and his wife put almost $13 million of their own money into the campaign. Scott is a multimillionaire who made his fortune as the founder and one-time CEO of a hospital chain.
Crist couldn’t overcome Scott’s attacks blaming him for the state’s financial problems during his term from 2007 to 2011. Crist blamed the troubles on the global economic meltdown.
A majority of Florida voters had an unfavorable view of incumbent Scott and believe Crist switched parties for political expediency, according to data from preliminary exit polling conducted in Florida for The Associated Press and the television networks.
A majority of voters also disapproved of how Scott responded to health care reform, the polling showed. While a majority of voters had a favorable view of Crist, six in 10 say the former GOP governor switched parties to win elections rather than to reflect his own beliefs. Overall, Florida voters expressed worry about the economy and overwhelmingly believe the nation is on the wrong track.