There are many gracious and grateful words in this concession speech from Bill McCollum. Hey, you know what’s missing? Any mention of Rick Scott, never mind any sense of “good luck.”
On Florida’s Republican Gubernatorial Primary Election Results
“The votes today have been tallied and I accept the voters’ decision.”
“This race was one for the ages. No one could have anticipated the entrance of a multi-millionaire with a questionable past who shattered campaign spending records and spent more in four months than has ever been spent in a primary race here in Florida.
“While I was disappointed with the negative tone of the race, I couldn’t be more proud of our campaign and our supporters for fighting back against false and misleading advertising when we were down by double-digits.
“First, I want to thank my wife, Ingrid, and our entire family. I could not have made it this far without Ingrid’s unwavering love and support. I also want to thank the many Republican leaders who stood by our campaign and helped build our organization, especially Governor Jeb Bush, Commissioner Charlie Bronson, House Speaker Larry Cretul, Senate President Designate Mike Haridopolos, House Speaker Designate Dean Cannon and House Majority Leader Adam Hasner.
“Most importantly, I thank the hundreds of volunteers who put in time and hard work to get our message out. I am humbled and overwhelmed by their passion for our campaign and depth of their support.
“As I’ve said time and time again, this race was never about me, it’s about Floridians. My campaign was about our kids and grandkids, and making Florida a better place for them.
“My campaign for Governor may be over, but I remain committed to serving our state and serving out the rest of my term as Florida’s Attorney General. We will continue our fight against Obamacare, continue to support states’ rights and their authority to crack down on illegal immigration and fight for all Floridians.
“I love Florida, and I believe in the extraordinary people who have made it the greatest state in the country. There is nothing beyond our reach when we put trust in individuals and in free enterprise, not in government or bureaucracy. I will always remain committed to fighting for these core conservative principles.”
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.”
Tomorrow is primary day in four states, and runoff elections occur in a fifth.
Alaska: The Senate GOP primary featuring Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Palin-backed Joe Miller is one of those races I’ve been meaning to take a look at, although it’s entirely possible — in fact, likely — that we’ll get the predictable win by the incumbent. There hasn’t been a ton of polling, and Alaska seems like one of the tougher states to poll; what little polling there is shows Murkowski ahead comfortably. It’s not unthinkable that Miller could get some traction, but it’s not yet clear that Alaska Republicans see Murkowski as an unacceptable squish on par with Arlen Specter or Charlie Crist. She has a lifetime ACU rating of 70. (The Power Line guys examined whether Murkowski rates as a “RINO” here.)
Arizona: Earlier this year, the John McCain-J. D. Hayworth fight in the Arizona Senate primary looked like one of this cycle’s clashes of the titans, but Hayworth hasn’t really been able to get within striking distance.
In Arizona’s 3rd congressional district, John Shadegg is retiring, and a crowd of Republicans (10!) seek to fill his shoes. The most famous name belongs to the son of a former vice president, with a rather odd commercial:
Somebody’s going to be sent to knock the hell out of Washington, but it’s probably going to be Pamela Gorman, Steven Moak, Paradise Valley mayor Vernon Parker, or former state senator Jim Waring. (If Gorman doesn’t win, the winner ought to hire her for security.)
In Arizona’s 8th, it’s a simpler but no less hard-fought GOP primary. Former state senator Jonathan Paton is the fund-raising leader and establishment choice, but Iraq War veteran Jesse Kelly is coming on strong. A mid-July poll showed Paton with a one-percentage-point lead over incumbent Democrat Gabrielle Giffords.
Florida: In the Sunshine State’s statewide races, we know four of the big six candidates. The Senate race will feature Republican Marco Rubio, independent Charlie Crist, and an underdog Democrat. Right now, that Democrat appears to be Kendrick Meek, who is coming back against Jeff Greene, who has spent a king’s ransom in his bid. (More on the impact of negative ads in that race here.)
In the governor’s race, the Democrat will be Alex Sink, the independent will be Lawton Chiles III, and the Republican will be either health-care executive and anti-Obamacare activist Rick Scott or state attorney general Bill McCollum. McCollum appears to be enjoying a surge, in the Mason-Dixon and the Quinnipiac poll.
There are a couple of interesting House primaries in Florida. In the 8th district, every Republican and their brother is itching to take on an infamous incumbent. The likely favorite is former state senator Daniel Webster (Republican–Winter Garden) but he’s facing a strong push from state representative Kurt Kelly (Republican–Ocala). The winner faces off against U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson (Troll–Daily Kos).
In the 24th district, incumbent Democrat Suzanne Kosmas looked beatable even before her vote for health-care reform and more job losses on Florida’s Space Coast. If former Ruth’s Chris steakhouse chain CEO Craig Miller wins the primary, I will require an immediate catered interview. A bit behind in fundraising are state representative Sandy Adams and Winter Park vice mayor Karen Diebel.
Oklahoma runoff: Republicans in two House districts will vote in runoffs. In the eastern 2nd district, Charles Thompson, Jr. received 34 percent in the July 27 primary; Daniel Edmonds received 28 percent. The winner takes on incumbent Democrat Dan Boren, a well-established conservative Democrat. However, in a year like this in a district that scores R+14, nothing is guaranteed.
In the Oklahoma City–based 5th district, the current congresswoman, Republican Mary Fallin, is running for governor; former state representative Kevin Calvey and James Lankford finished within two percentage points of each other in the primary’s first round and face off tomorrow for the GOP nomination. In this R+13 district, the winner will be heavily favored to win in November.
Vermont: There are five Democrats battling it out for their gubernatorial nomination; the GOP has avoided a primary and Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie will be the nominee.
Sen. Pat Leahy is up for reelection; Len Britton faces the tough task of trying to knock off the longtime incumbent.
One of my regulars offers an assessment from Florida . . .
Voters are EXHAUSTED with the negative ads. This might be something building down there. Anyone without a real message other than attacking their opponent may not get any traction with voters. Scott and Greene might both be in real trouble, unless their money bought a ton of early votes. Voters really turned against them after the subpoena for Scott and the reports of antics on Greene’s boat with Mike Tyson . . .
If they go down, that’s a stunning defeat for these two money bags throwing so much money into the races and at the end, could well lose by a very good margin.
That would shape up to be a race between Alex Sink, Bill McCollum, and Lawton Chiles III in the governor’s race and Kendrick Meek, Marco Rubio, Charlie Crist in the Senate race. As long as Meek is over 20 percent in the polls, I don’t see him dropping out . . . The greatest risk to Rubio in a M-R-C match-up is Meek dropping out the last minute (but not so late, because of early votings in Florida) and endorsing Crist . . . (maybe the other way around — Crist endorsing Meek last minute so he can beg for some job in the Obama administration!) . . . Bottom line, the voters are up in arms against the negative ads. They’ve had it. They want a good positive agenda . . . Rubio’s absence from the slugfest between the candidates and the money-bags may be a good thing. People are not looking for someone to blame and to whack the other guy, but rather someone to come in and fix the darn situation now . . . A good analog is the boat is sinking, taking in water, and there is a big gusher in the boat . . . If all the voters see is three guys fighting each other and not fixing a darn thing, all three will get punished.
The Mason-Dixon poll commissioned by the Orlando Sentinel and other news organizations found McCollum with 45 percent support among likely voters compared to 36 percent support for the former health care executive, with Republican Mike McAlister drawing 4 percent.
The nine-point advantage among 500 GOP voters surveyed Tuesday through Thursday suggests undecided voters are breaking two-to-one for McCollum since the last Mason-Dixon poll a week earlier found him with a four-percentage point lead. The former Longwood congressman is now leading in every region of the state save for Scott’s home turf in southwest Florida.
A reader writes in, asking a fascinating question: Which five races are most important for Republicans this year?
(Cue every GOP campaign consultant in America e-mailing me with the message, “IT’S MINE! IT’S MINE! IT’S MINE!”)
I offered an answer that didn’t quite fit his criteria: If the GOP wins the governor’s races in California, Texas, and Florida, and maximizes its influence in each state’s legislature, they will probably have the ability to add about 10 more GOP-friendly U.S. House districts among those three states. With the House of Representatives likely to be closely contested after Election Day — either a narrow Democratic majority or a narrow Republican majority — that next batch of winnable races could have a big impact on the next ten years.
Of course, California is considering altering its usual method of redistricting through a proposition this year, and Democrats have large majorities in the state senate and assembly. Texas’s state senate is currently heavily GOP and the state house has a narrower Republican majority; Florida Republicans have a pretty wide majorities in the state senate and state house.
Watching Jon Corzine buy himself first a Senate seat and then the job of governor in New Jersey made me wary of billionaires and millionaires who decide, mid-life or so, to run for statewide office and outspend anyone who gets in their way.
(Of course, almost every political candidate is a bit more wealthy than the average Joe.)
But 2010 appears to be indeed the year for this kind of candidate. In California, you have Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina. In Michigan, Rick Snyder just beat some big GOP names in the gubernatorial primary. In Connecticut, you have Linda McMahon. In Wisconsin, Ron Johnson appears to fit the bill. In primary after primary, we’re seeing voters overlook state legislators and state attorneys general because they prefer outsiders, with no ties to the current governing system, who tout their business and economic expertise. (It’s not just a GOP phenomenon; Jeff Greene looks like he’s about to run over Kendrick Meek in Florida’s Democratic Senate primary.)
And now, Rick Scott appears to be on the verge of beating Bill McCollum in the GOP gubernatorial primary in Florida.
Scott earned his stripes among conservatives during the Obamacare debate, financing and directing a massive nationwide advertising effort. But perhaps more importantly in this primary, he’s laid out a 7-7-7 plan: “7 steps will create 700,000 jobs in 7 years.“
Democrats thought Scott would prove to be a political liability. Over at The New Republic, Ed Kilgore snorts that Scott’s bid “is beginning to look like a murder-suicide pact on the GOP’s gubernatorial prospects.” He should read more polls. Four of the last give in the state give Scott a consistent small lead in the general-election matchup against Democrat Alex Sink and Bud Chiles, who is running as an independent. And Scott hasn’t even begun running ads against Sink, the state CFO whose plans for insurance rates are being derided as “magic.”
Why has Bill McCollum’s previous polling strength disappeared? Scott’s millions upon millions in advertising are part of it, but he probably more accurately reflects Floridians’ “to hell with anybody in government right now” attitude. As state attorney general, McCollum isn’t at fault for Florida’s miserable housing market, high unemployment, and voters’ general dissatisfaction with the government they’re getting. But as a guy whose career in politics began with a 1980 election to Congress, he is “Mr. Old and Reliable” in a year when some of the most high-profile Old and Reliables have used up the last crumbs of the benefit of the doubt. (Think of Bob Bennett, Arlen Specter, Charlie Crist, Charlie Rangel, and Allan Mollohan.)
Throughout his career, Corzine has been accused of buying endorsements. (I would note that those transactions require someone to offer to sell those endorsements.) In this race, McCollum, the comparably underfunded candidate, has been endorsed by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Florida Retail Federation PAC, Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, Dick Armey, Gary Bauer, and Newt Gingrich.
If Scott wins the GOP nomination, he will have won it the old-fashioned way: by earning it.
UPDATE: A reader in Florida adds:
I’m almost certain Scott’s rise in the polls is directly related to his stated support of, and McCollum’s stated opposition to*, Arizona’s immigration law. I don’t have occasion to conduct a Jay Cost-like analysis, but I’d bet the relationship between Scott taking the lead and his relentless ads on this issue is a direct one. I’d actually love to see an overlay of the timelines.This issue plays right into the “throw them all out” mentality, which is very real. McCollum has run for every elected office in Florida it seems, and–he can’t really help this, I guess–he even looks like Central Casting’s ideal of the careerist GOP establishment politician. But the deal breaker was the Ariz immigration issue. This one is over.
ANOTHER UPDATE: McCollum’s camp makes the case their man is pro-Arizona.
Recently, Bill McCollum filed an amicus brief in support of Arizona in defense of the Department of Justice’s lawsuit against the state’s new law.
· In 2008, Attorney General McCollum convened a statewide workgroup of state agencies, sheriffs and other law enforcement agencies to work with the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to expand the federal 287(g) program beyond just domestic security efforts and use it as a tool to combat dangerous criminal illegal aliens.
· Attorney General McCollum has championed efforts to allow trained local and state law enforcement officers to exercise immigration authority in conjunction with the federal government’s efforts.
· Under the expanded 287(g) authority Attorney General McCollum helped negotiate, and under the supervision of ICE, trained Florida law enforcement officers are granted the power to enforce federal immigration laws, including the power to detain and transport arrested illegal aliens to detention facilities for prosecution.
It appears this was the wrong year to be a member or former member of the U.S. House of Representatives running for statewide office in Florida against a guy with gobs and gobs of money.
Florida businessman Rick Scott holds a 43 – 32 percent lead over State Attorney General Bill McCollum for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, according to a Quinnipiac University poll of likely primary voters released today. Another 23 percent are undecided and 43 percent of those who do name a candidate say they might change their mind.
In the race for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate, businessman Jeff Greene has jumped to a 33 – 23 percent lead over U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, with former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre at 4 percent. But 35 percent are undecided and 54 percent of those who name a candidate say they might change their mind.
Just remember, on June 4, Time wrote a piece on Meek entitled, “How Florida’s Forgotten Democrat Could Win the Senate Race.”
He’s going to have to do better than 23 percent in his own primary.
Political neophyte Rick Scott has surged to a 44 – 31 percent lead over Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum in the race for the Republican nomination for governor, apparently powered by a multi-million dollar television ad blitz to introduce him to voters, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.
In the contest for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination, Jeff Greene, another political unknown with deep pockets, is following a similar approach of large TV ad spending to move into a statistical dead heat with Kendrick Meek, the independent Quinnipiac University survey finds: Meek gets 29 percent to Greene’s 27 percent with former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre at 3 percent. The biggest number, 37 percent, are undecided.
You may recall Rick Scott from a national advertising campaign against Obamacare. It will be up to Florida Republicans to decide whether his prominent efforts in that fight warrant giving him the nomination over McCollum, who has served as a member of Congress and state attorney general, and is endorsed by former governor Jeb Bush.
The Democratic primary number is a real shocker, as just days ago, Time magazine was telling us not to count out Kendrick Meek, and I was mocking them. Now we’re to believe a guy currently getting 29 percent of Democrats is going to overtake Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio?
There’s something appealing about the audacious, unlikely path to fortune of Jeff Greene — I earlier described him as a Horatio Alger story told by David Lynch – and now he’s only two percentage points behind a guy who’s been running for this office since January 2009.
I wouldn’t quite say, “Congratulations, Governor-elect Bill McCollum,” but this news makes it much more likely that the GOP frontrunner will emerge victorious on the fall:
Lawton “Bud’’ Chiles III, the son of the late governor, announced Thursday that he plans to run for governor as an independent candidate.
A lifelong Democrat, Chiles is poised to test the theory that 2010 is the Year of the Outsider. Another high-profile candidate, Gov. Charlie Crist, recently left his party to run as an independent in the U.S. Senate race.
The move gives Chiles additional time to raise money and build name recognition for November’s race between candidates from the two major parties. In opting out of the Democratic primary, he skipped a one-on-one battle with Alex Sink, the front-runner for the nomination who has raised $6.1 million . . .
Chiles said he made his decision after he met with Sink and she told him she plans to raise $30 million on the race.
Democrats likely won’t be pleased with Chiles’ move, as it could set him up as a spoiler candidate who would draw votes from Sink.
On paper, Chiles and Sink split the center-left vote and McCollum (or perhaps Rick Scott) emerges with the largest plurality. Of course, there’s a reason they actually have elections and don’t just do things on paper.
This is the year of the Florida three-way, with this development and the Senate race, a contest among Marco Rubio, Charlie Crist, and Kendrick Meek.