Charlie Crist, Jennifer Carroll Top Florida's List For The Year That Was

Daily Business Review

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On Jan. 1, 2013, few people had ever heard of the Dream Defenders.

Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll was still in office, and any rumblings about her future were confined to rumors that she might not be Gov. Rick Scott's running mate in 2014. And Charlie Crist was still a private citizen.

Scott was known as the governor opposed to anything and everything to do with the federal Affordable Care Act. And 45 percent of voters disapproved of the governor's job performance, compared to 36 percent who approved.

As the state enters 2014, virtually all of that has changed. The Dream Defenders became the story of the summer in Tallahassee. Carroll was forced to resign because of her one-time association with an alleged illicit gambling operation. Crist is a newly minted Democratic candidate for governor. Scott endorsed the Medicaid expansion that was one of the central pieces of the Affordable Care Act, even if he didn't push very hard for it.

But some things, it seems, aren't so easily changed. Scott's disapproval rating stands at 47 percent in the most recent Quinnipiac survey, though 42 percent of those polled now approve.

Here are five big Florida politics and government stories from the year that was. The list isn't meant to be comprehensive, and the rankings are certainly up for debate. But these are the things that many people will likely remember about 2013.

1. Charlie Crist goes full Kafka, will run as a Democrat

Former Republican governor Crist had already undergone most of his metamorphosis by the time 2013 dawned. Crist bolted from the GOP in 2010 to run as an unaffiliated candidate for the U.S. Senate, then joined the Democratic Party in late 2012 after backing President Barack Obama's bid for re-election.

Instead, a very different waiting game was under way: whether and when Crist would announce that he was going to challenge Scott for his old job. The "whether" wasn't much in doubt. Crist ended speculation about the "when" in November. He filed for office Nov. 1 and held a rally three days later to make it official.

"When the people give you the honor of being the governor, you aren't the governor of any one party," Crist said. "You're the governor for all Floridians. No matter what they say, it is not a sin to reach across the aisle. It is your obligation to work together. So yeah, I'm running as a Democrat and I am proud to do it."

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