Ladies and gentlemen, it is not yet official, but the numbers are starting to look insurmountable. Barring some sort of wildly lopsided pro-McCollum trend in the remaining precincts, the 2010 Republican gubernatorial nominee in Florida is . . . Rick Scott.
The bad news for Republicans: Scott is a first-time candidate with baggage, who came out of the primary a bit banged up and now will have to unite a fiercely divided party.
The bad news for Democrats: winning this race — heck, just keeping pace with Scott — is going to cost them a lot of money. The Democratic Governors Association might as well just hand over whatever’s left in their accounts to Alex Sink right now.
UPDATE: At 10:54 p.m. eastern, the AP and CNN project Scott the winner. McCollum has not conceded, said they’ll be counting votes through the night. But he also said the results were, so far, not what he wished to see.
ANOTHER UPDATE: A Florida media voice tells me that he thinks the state’s Republicans will unite:
Think unity in among Sunshine State GOPers will be hard to come by? I think not. After attending a Hillsborough County Republican Party event Friday night at which Scott spoke, his message — thriftier government overall, less reliance on property taxes, far more aggressiveness about luring industry that comes south only to stop at the state line (we’re a right to work state, too!), early and persistent seriousness about illegal immigration — will resonate with temporarily annoyed McCollum Republicans (of whom I am one) and independents worried about job security.
And by now, Scott’s association with the “biggest fine for Medicaid fraud in history” is baked in the proverbial cake. Meanwhile, Alex Sink, decent public servant but otherwise Democratic cipher, is about to be on the receiving end of a heavy-duty definition campaign laid on her by Scott’s abundant millions. Her poll lead is ephemeral.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Hmm. This statement from the Republican Governors Association is missing something . . . Oh, that’s it. Enthusiasm.
Voters have selected Republican Rick Scott to face Democrat Alex Sink and independent Bud Chiles in the November election for governor of Florida. Republican Governors Association spokesman Tim Murtaugh today issued the following statement:
“Intraparty struggles are often difficult to watch, and the contest in Florida has been a good example of that. That said, the primary is over, Rick Scott is the nominee, the general election has begun, and our party now looks forward.
“Alex Sink has had months to run in a clear field and has not gained any traction, showing that her message has failed to connect with voters. She represents the policies of Washington, D.C. Democrats: higher taxes, runaway spending and greater intrusion into the everyday lives of Floridians.
“Couple her flagging campaign with the legitimate candidacy of Bud Chiles, and there is a real battle being waged for Democratic votes in Florida.”