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If Mr. Crist challenges Mr. Scott in 2014, a clear path to the governor’s mansion is not a sure bet. There is widespread speculation Mrs. Sink is eying another shot and other Democrats frequently mentioned include Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio and Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler. Former state Sen. Nan Rich is the only declared Democratic candidate for governor.

“Most people think [Mr. Crist] going to make a run for it, but the bottom line is, only Charlie knows for sure,” said University of South Florida political science professor Susan MacManus. “He’s been masterful over the years keeping people guessing and keeping his name alive and [being] intriguing to the populous.”

But she added, “I don’t think anybody thinks he’s done in politics.”

If he does run and survives the primary, Democrats likely will have little problem embracing their former political foe. The Quinnipiac poll pegged his favorably rating among Democrats at 65 percent, and at 48 percent among independents.