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Can Nan Rich Lead Democrats to Victory Over Rick Scott?

Nan Rich's long shot campaign for governor keeps piling up points by the abuse it suffers. First the state GOP decides to take shots at her for her history as a defender of women's reproductive rights. Now she makes headlines when her own party denies her the right to speak at its Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner, the Democrats' big annual statewide shindig.

See also: - GOP Finally Attacks Nan Rich

The major rap on Rich from the (so-called) smart money has been that she lacks the name recognition of contenders like Charlie Crist, who's playing footsie about a run, and Sen. Bill Nelson, who some party leaders see as a white knight. The noise over the decision to muffle Rich put a dent in that. Hell hath no fury like a woman, or women's groups, scorned.

Running as "the only active, credible" announced Democratic candidate, Rich has been working the hustings hard for almost a year now, claiming appearances at "more than two hundred events, visiting twenty-five counties multiple times." Speaking with us yesterday, she ticked off her strengths and her strategy.

Rich slammed the thinking of Dem leaders who fear an unrepentant liberal from South Florida can't win statewide. "Obama proved a progressive can win," she said. "How did that happen? Two times in a row -- a progressive, African American candidate."

Rich has the Obama model in mind in terms of grassroots organizing, drawing on the networks she developed during 12 years in the state legislature, including two as leader of the Senate Democratic Caucus.

"The early endorsement by NOW was big," she said. "These are workers, activists who will get out and organize, work the phones, get people to the polls. I think women will make the difference in this race."

Noting Obama's edge in the Hispanic vote, widely credited with putting him over the top, she called Hispanics "extremely important" and cited her support for the DREAM act and her history of community activism, in addition to legislative efforts on early childhood and higher education.

Rich was unfazed by the prospect of facing Rick Scott's gazillions of campaign funds. "Whoever we nominate won't have as much money as the Republicans," she said. "It's always that way. But you don't need as much money. You need enough money. When the time comes we'll have the resources."

If she runs, Rich will inevitably face GOP/Tea Party claims she's some kind of radical, (lesbian) feminist. It's going to be hard to make that stick on a mother of four and grandmother of three. Those attacks they've already launched from their "right-to-life" platform?

"If they think that's going to be a winner," Rich said, "I urge them to continue."

Senator Nan Rich will address a meeting of the West Palm Beach Democratic Club at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 11th, at the Raindancer Steak House, WPB.

Fire Ant -- an invasive species, tinged bright red, with an annoying, sometimes-fatal sting -- covers Palm Beach County. Got feedback or a tip? Contact [email protected].

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