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Gov. Scott shakes hands with ... Steve Schale? Really?

At a reception at the Governor's Mansion Wednesday for current members and alumni of Leadership Florida, Gov. Rick Scott shook well over 100 hands, but one definitely stood out -- to everyone else in attendance, if not to the governor.

Standing in line, waiting to pay his respects to Scott and First Lady Ann Scott, was Steve Schale, the Democratic strategist who coordinated Barack Obama's historic 2008 victory in Florida. Schale also is expected to be tapped to run another campaign -- against Scott --  if former Gov. Charlie Crist decides to challenge the governor for re-election next year. Between campaigns, Schale, 38, is a member of the current Leadership Florida class.

As he waited in line, Schale was teased by Leadership Florida classmate Brian Yablonski, a leading Republican and a former top adviser to Gov. Jeb Bush who was a mansion regular (until Crist got elected in 2006).

"I enjoyed that," Yablonski said. "I told him (Schale), it's been so long since you had somebody of your party in here, you were probably in grade school. I said I can show you around when we get in there." …

It will just have to go down as one of those Tallahassee coincidences that Schale's rare visit inside the Governor's Mansion came on a day when a new Quinnipiac poll showed Crist beating Scott by 16 points (50-34 percent) in a hypothetical matchup.

"As a Floridian, it's always an honor to come to the Governor's Mansion," Schale said. "I'd like to come back here one day with a governor of my own party. But it's nice to meet him."

-- Steve Bousquet