At Curtis Hixon Park, A Rally Against Governor Scott

Rick Scott’s candidacy for US Senate was met with a rally in downtown Tampa

On Monday afternoon, with Governor Rick Scott’s candidacy for United States Senate just a matter of hours old, protesters and speakers gathered at Curtis Hixon Park in downtown Tampa to come out against the governor’s policies and urge voters to cast their eventual vote for somebody else.

The Reject Rick Scott rally, led by Organize Florida, featured a number of speakers from the Tampa community giving their reasons for opposing Scott’s politics.  They pleaded for better conditions for the state’s teachers, women, legal immigrants, and LGTBQ community.  They asked for political action on climate change.  Most importantly, they campaigned for people to go to the polls and vote for anybody but Rick Scott as he embarks on his campaign for US Senate.

“When I hear the governor say that this is the best public education budget we’ve ever had, I can’t help but ask: A 47 cent per student increase is the best we could do?” The representative from the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers’ Association was not alone. A teacher whose budget, both personally and professionally, had been squeezed by actions she attributes to Scott’s administration in Tallahassee. Another speaker, a prisoner advocate, voiced issues with Governor Scott’s policies regarding convicted felons who have served their sentences. A member of the LGTBQ community spoke out against the senate candidate’s socially conservative actions, or more accurately his inaction.

A crowd around the speakers voiced their agreement throughout and joined in chanting as part of the demonstration. Some brought signs as part of their protest.  At times, they booed the governor’s actions as the top person in Tallahassee.  They also cheered speakers and chanted peacefully about taking action.

Dianne Hart, a candidate for State House in District 61, encouraged voters to be ready to go to the polls this November.

Volunteers described their organization as non-partisan, and no speaker specifically endorsed incumbent Bill Nelson or any other candidate besides Governor Scott who they oppose.  However, anyone who listened was urged to go to the polls and vote when the time comes.

Many of the speakers and audience alike are indeed coming into this election in a non-partisan way.  Rather than members of the Democratic party or opponents of the Republicans, they largely came across as voters largely concerned with actions–or lack thereof–on specific issues that they hold dear.

Another demonstration unfolded on Monday afternoon in St. Petersburg, with Mayor Rick Kriseman among the notables involved in a gathering at Sea Dog Brewing Company that spoke out against Governor Scott.  Unlike the rally in Tampa, the St. Petersburg gathering was very much in support of a specific candidate in Bill Nelson.  Mayor Kriseman has already made his endorsement clear.

Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties will be essential to any candidate wanting to win the Governor’s Mansion, and a major part of elections involves energizing voter groups to support their candidate. Turnout in many cases is the difference between winning and losing in November.  As the eyes of much of the country turn to Florida, the Sunshine State may look to Tampa Bay as the battleground that decides statewide races.