MIAMI – Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill McBride may be a political newcomer but he has learned a few tricks.
"You always do three things. You speak about God, you speak about love, and you speak about five minutes," McBride joked, adding, "Never forget to ask for the money."
McBride is one of four Democrats hoping to unseat Florida Republican Gov. Jeb Bush, and slowly the 56-year-old Democrat is being rewarded for learning his last lesson. He has squeezed nearly $1 million from once doubting donors.
"Although he doesn't have the experience, maybe he has new ideas," said schoolteacher and supporter Cindy Heinlein.
A moderate Democrat with no prior political experience, McBride is facing off against three political veterans: former Clinton Attorney General Janet Reno, state House Minority Leader Lois Frankel, and state Sen. Daryl Jones.
"What I don't want to do is hone all these political skills and forget why it was that I decided to run. And that's because I think Florida needs a new governor with a different set of priorities," McBride said.
McBride is currently running ahead in the money race against odds-on favorite Reno. Some political analysts say Reno's recent on-camera fainting spell, which she suffered while giving a speech at Rochester University in New York, was a political and literal fall from grace that thumped the former attorney general's campaign while boosting a political nobody like McBride.
"He doesn't have any negative baggage like Janet Reno does, who has a lot of baggage. No one knows who he is so he can form his own image and that's probably a good thing," said Kevin Hill, an associate professor of political science at Florida International University.
Jones and Frankel are both considered longshots by political experts. Florida's AFL-CIO union is said to be leaning McBride's way while one statewide teachers union has already endorsed him as the man who can beat Bush.
"This guy trumps him on every single point, except his relatives. His daddy was a television repairman. He wasn't president of the United States," said Jade Moore, executive director of the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association.