Florida Gov. Rick Scott, in a close race against Democrat Charlie Crist, is making job creation his central campaign theme, The Wall Street Journal
The state's economic performance was dismal under Crist's term as governor. Florida lost about 825,000 jobs during his four-year tenure, ending in 2011, primarily due to the global economic downturn. The state also had a $3.6 billion budget shortfall the year Crist left office. Crist was a Republican when he served as governor and later switched parties.
Under Scott, the jobless rate has fallen to 6.2 percent from 10.9 percent when he took office in 2011, the nation's third-largest decline. Employment rose by 470,000 jobs, or 6.5 percent, the seventh-best gain, and the budget is in a $1.2 billion surplus, according to the Journal.
But in a quandary similar to that facing many Republican governors seeking re-election this year, many Florida voters are still gloomy about the future. There also is a risk that if the recovery continues to be strong, voters will credit federal rather than state policies for the improvement.
In Michigan, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has dubbed himself the "Comeback Kid," citing tax cuts and deficit reduction in part for boosting employment by 123,000 jobs, or 5.2 percent, just ahead of the national average of 5.1 percent.
GOP Gov. John Kasich of Ohio cites his tax cuts and efforts to balance the budget as helping boost employment by 4.4 percent, third among Midwestern states. In Wisconsin, though GOP Gov. Scott Walker finds himself short of his 2010 campaign pledge to create 250,000 jobs by 2015, employment has risen by about 138,000.
A Quinnipiac University survey
in January found that Crist was leading Scott by 46 to 38 percent , topping the incumbent on almost every measure, including handling the economy and jobs.
Scott retaliated by pointing to Crist's record: "In four years, we went from one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country to one of the highest," he said, according to the Journal.
But Dan Gelber, a former Democratic minority leader in the Florida House and an adviser to Crist, responded that it is wrong to blame the former governor for the pain inflicted by a global economic crisis that hit every state. "It's really an amazingly stupid argument," he said.
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