The Florida Democratic Party knows it needs Nan Rich.
And, perhaps, so does former Gov. Charlie Crist, who could face her in next year’s Democratic primary for governor if he decides to run against her.
A long-shot for governor, Rich’s background is an inverse of Crist’s: a committed liberal and a longtime Democrat, but a virtual unknown. Rich, a former Democratic leader in the state Senate, represented Weston until 2012.
If Crist runs, which looks likely, the Republican-turned-independent-turned Democrat will have to face her in a 2014 primary where only registered Democrats can vote.
Democrats say that dynamic is a good thing because any candidate who matches up against Republican Gov. Rick Scott will have to be battle-tested.
Even if Crist ultimately wins the Democratic primary — which early polls suggest is highly likely — it’ll force him to prove his party bonafides. Rich’s candidacy, at the least, will force a discussion about what it means to be a Democrat in Florida.
And Rich plans to do just that as she appeals to the grassroots of the party.
“They want a true Democrat,” Rich said. “They want someone who has consistent core values and principles. They don’t see that in Charlie Crist.”
Crist demurred when it came time to talk about his future plans or running against Rich.
“I’m not much of a prognosticator,” Crist said. “I don’t know yet if I’ll run. But I’m getting closer everyday to making that decision.”