Friday, October 24th, 2014

Head into the gubernatorial primary with the facts on your side

Nan Rich and Charlie Crist square off in the Democratic primary on Aug. 26, 2014. (Tampa Bay Times file photos)
Nan Rich and Charlie Crist square off in the Democratic primary on Aug. 26, 2014. (Tampa Bay Times file photos)

The Florida primary is Tuesday, which can mean only one thing: You have to remember the race isn’t Rick Scott vs. Charlie Crist just yet.

With Crist virtually ignoring Democratic rival Nan Rich, it’s easy to forget the closed primary is even necessary. Crist and Rich haven’t addressed each other in any claims PolitiFact Florida has checked, but we have been rating statements candidates have made -- and that have been made against them.

For her part, Rich, a former state senator, has stayed focused on the issues. We’ve checked her statements saying Florida’s economy depends on tourism and retirees (Mostly True); calling the state’s tax structure the third most-regressive in the country (Mostly True); blaming school vouchers for taking $3 billion from public schools over the next five years (Mostly False); saying tens of thousands of Floridians are on waiting lists for child care and elder care (Mostly True); and claiming the state is 48th in K-12 funding and 50th in higher education spending (Half True).

Find all our coverage of Rich at her PolitiFact Florida report card.

Former Republican (and former independent) Crist remains the primary target of plenty of attacks, with the Republican Party of Florida accusing him of making it easier for electric provider Duke Energy to take consumers’ money (False); riding on a jet owned by "a serial polluter" (True); voting against increasing the minimum wage (Half True); raising taxes by $2.2 billion (Mostly True); opposing in-state tuition for illegal immigrants (True); and supporting cuts to Medicare Advantage (False).

The state GOP contradicted Crist when he said Florida’s own insurance commissioner couldn’t regulate health insurance because of a law passed under Scott. The Republican Party said it was Obamacare that prevented the state from regulating insurance, a statement we ruled Pants on Fire!

Scott has also gone after Crist, with education spending and the economy making up a big portion of the accusations. Scott said former Gov. Crist spent his first term in office letting college tuition increase up to 15 percent every year (Mostly True) and laying off 3,000 teachers (Mostly False). Scott also has said the state is still recovering from 825,000 job losses under Crist, with the unemployment rate ballooning to 11.1 percent during Crist’s term (Half True). He’s said that the Scott administration has drawn down the state debt -- which he said was $5.2 billion under Crist -- by $2 billion (Half True).

Scott has ignored primary opponents Yinka Adeshina and Elizabeth Cuevas-Neunder, but has faced attacks from Crist, who credited himself for giving the middle class and seniors property tax cuts (Mostly True) but said Scott raised them (Mostly False). Crist said he stopped 20,000 teacher layoffs after the onset of the Great Recession (Half True), but accused Scott of trying to cut education spending by $3.3 billion (Mostly True) while spending about $200 less per student (Mostly True) and cutting Bright Futures scholarships in half (Half True).

The Florida Democratic Party has fired some shots against Scott, too. They said Scott "oversaw the largest Medicare fraud in the nation’s history" (Mostly True), although the record has since been passed. It also claimed Scott said education was not a core function of the state government (False) and that the Republican governor cut more jobs than were created in 2012, which earned the Dems a Pants on Fire!

These and many more fact checks can be found at the candidates’ PolitiFact report cards. Read more about Scott here, and see how we weighed in on Crist here.