ORLANDO - Gov. Rick Scott pointed to the state's improving economy Saturday as he encouraged Republicans to begin working now to make sure he and other party members are elected in 2014.
Even though President Barack Obama won Florida and Republicans lost seats in Congress and the Legislature, Scott predicted the next election will be different.
"I don't understand why everybody's not a Republican," Scott told party activists gathered for the state GOP's annual meeting. "Anybody who believes that they want to improve themselves should be a Republican."
Scott pointed out that before he took office, Florida's unemployment had skyrocketed and the housing market had collapsed. He said since he's taken office, Florida's unemployment rate has dropped faster than every other state but one, and home values and sales are increasing.
"We cut property taxes, we cut business taxes, we cut regulation," Scott said. "We're doing the right thing. We're getting back to work."
Scott said that party activists need to start working now to ensure success in the next election.
"Everybody needs to be getting a phone call," Scott said. "We are 22 months minus one day away from the next election."
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who will also be on the 2014 ballot, acknowledged the last election wasn't a good one for Republicans.
"We got our teeth kicked in," Putnam said. "We can't let that happen in two years. We've got to protect our team."
Also Saturday, Lenny Curry was re-elected as the state GOP chairman. He faced no opposition. He said that the 2012 election had some "really low lows," but that the party is still doing well.
"The Republican Party here in the state of Florida is strong. It is strong and it is going to get stronger," Curry said, adding that Republicans need to clearly state their principles.
"We have allowed someone else to carry our message. There's now this sort of stigma that the Republican Party is the party of no, the party that doesn't believe in individuals," Curry said. "It's not true."
After the meeting, Scott said he'll run for re-election with the same message he had when he won office in 2010 — making the state more business-friendly.
"This time I'll have the opportunity to talk about what we have accomplished. It's going to be focused on putting families first, it's going to be focused on our track record of holding government accountable, reducing taxes, reducing regulations, getting the job market going, getting housing coming back, getting exports up, improving education," Scott said.