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Tags: Rick Scott

A Bad Trend for Charlie Crist in Florida



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A Florida polling result some might find surprising:

PPP’s newest Florida poll shows that the race is a toss up. Despite having an approval rating of only 39 percent with 48 percent disapproval, incumbent Governor Rick Scott is tied with possible Democratic candidate and former Republican governor Charlie Crist at 42 percent apiece. Helping Scott is the fact that Crist is also underwater with a 32 percent favorable rating and 48 percent unfavorable.

In the RealClearPolitics polling average, Crist leads by 2 percentage points, his smallest lead of the year.

Tags: Charlie Crist , Rick Scott

Rick Scott Gaining Ground in Florida?



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Florida Republicans continue to emphasize that incumbent Gov. Rick Scott has no easy task before him in his reelection bid. But one poll, Survey USA, is starting to see some movement in the right direction for Scott:

Is it an early indicator of things to come? Or is it just statistical noise? For the first time, the WFLA-TV poll that is tracking the Florida Governor’s contest shows Republican Rick Scott in front — Scott at 42%, Democrat Charlie Crist at 40%, according to SurveyUSA data gathered as voters get ready for the Memorial Day weekend. Compared to an identical SurveyUSA poll 10 days ago, Scott is up 1 point, Crist is down 4 points, a 5-point shift to the right.

Here is where there is movement: in Central Florida, which includes 19 counties surrounding Orlando, Scott has gained ground in each of 4 tracking polls and today leads there 47% to 34%. You can see it here. Among moderates, Crist had a 25-point advantage 10 days ago, now a 12-point advantage. You can see it here. Among males, Crist has been steadily losing ground, and now trails by 14 points; the Gender Gap is today 26 points. Crist’s support is down among whites, down among blacks. Among Cubans, Scott now leads 2:1.

 

Tags: Rick Scott , Charlie Crist

New Poll Shows Rick Scott Ahead in Florida’s Gubernatorial Race



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Hmm. The conventional wisdom on Florida’s governor’s race is that incumbent Republican Rick Scott is in deep trouble.

Then again, maybe not:

Scott leads [Republican-turned Democrat Charlie] Crist 45 percent to 44 percent, in a new Voter Survey Service poll, commissioned by Sunshine State News. While Scott’s lead is within the margin of error, the poll reveals the Republican holds an important 5 point lead over Crist among Floridians more likely to cast votes in the November election.

This is the first poll showing Scott ahead . . . so far this cycle.

Tags: Rick Scott , Charlie Crist , Florida

Is Rick Scott Quietly Assembling a Solid Governing Record?



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Today’s Morning Jolt was sent off to the editors a bit late, but hopefully worth the wait. A key section turns our eyes to the warmer climes of Florida . . . 

Great Scott! . . . or at Least Pretty Good Scott!

So this poll result, from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, sounds pretty ominous for Florida governor Rick Scott, a Republican, showing him trailing, 41 percent to former governor Charlie Crist’s 43 percent . . . until you recall the last PPP poll:

What was a 12 point lead for Charlie Crist over incumbent Rick Scott in September at 50/38 is now just a 2 point advantage at 43/41.

The movement since the fall has come largely as a result of Republican voters rallying around Scott and continuing to decline in their affection for Crist. Scott now leads by 66 points with the GOP base at 80/14, compared to only a 44 point advantage on previous poll at 65/21. That shift with Republicans accounts for almost the entire 10 point movement in Scott’s direction over the last few months.

Perhaps the late September was a bit of an outlier; that was the eve of the government shutdown that dragged down Republican polls across the country. (Ask Ken Cuccinelli if you doubt that a Washington shutdown can influence voter opinions about a governor’s race.) So is this a genuine comeback for Scott, or is the race settling in to what it was always likely to be — a close race between two flawed candidates?

It’s easy to understand a Floridian not loving Rick Scott. He initially supported the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare, but the GOP-dominated state legislature strongly opposed the proposal, and now he’s kind of quiet about the idea. Sure, he’s not exactly a whirling dervish of raw political charisma. Sure, everybody says he looks like he should be cast as Lex Luthor in the Superman movie.

But these past four years haven’t been that bad for Florida. By some indicators, they’ve been pretty darn good. When Scott took office in January 2011, the unemployment rate was 12.4 percent; today it’s 6.4 percent. The state has gone from more than a million unemployed to just under 600,000. Several tort-reform bills are now signed into law. The growth in state spending has slowed dramatically, now in line with the rate of inflation and population growth. State-government employees now kick in more for their pension costs, and the state government workforce has been reduced by more than 7 percent, almost 10,000 positions. Scott signed several school-choice bills into law.

There are governors who would shut down a bridge access lane for a record like that, or hock a Rolex.

But I can’t quite understand why any voter in Florida would be in love with Charlie Crist — partially because you’ll never love Charlie Crist the way Charlie Crist does. And I really can’t understand why any Florida Democrats would be itching to elect the guy whom they tried to beat in statewide races in 2000, 2002, and 2006, and in his “independent” bid for Senate in 2010. Is the ‘D’ after a candidate’s name really magic? Can it make you forget everything you couldn’t stand about the guy for the past decade?

Betsy Woodruff read Crist’s autobiography/campaign memoir so you wouldn’t have to:

A great anecdote in the middle of the book recounts his attendance at a Q&A session between governors and the president. After watching Obama get grilled by other Republican governors, Crist comes to the president’s defense:

“I’ve listened to my colleagues give you a bunch of garbage” — I kind of spat that word out — “about the stimulus. . . . It is not the way we ought to be treating you. We ought to be treating each other as we’re told in the Bible — ‘do unto others.’”

The scene in its entirety is much lengthier, but you get the idea. Charlie Crist is the guy at the panel who raises his hand to ask a question and then blabs into the mic for five minutes instead. And Valerie Jarrett, who listens to the exchange, is deeply moved:

“That’s exactly what he needed to hear,” she said. “That’s exactly what we all need to hear.” As Valerie spoke, I could see tears were running down her cheeks. “Thank you for saying that,” she said.

Yeah. I’m sure that’s exactly how it happened.

Charlie Crist does have a passionate, uncompromising belief and a deep-rooted principle. The problem is that his passionate, uncompromising belief is the a deep-rooted principle that he should be governor. Everything else is negotiable.

UPDATE: Some charts on the size of Florida’s state-government workforce, year by year:

If the print is too small, the overall state government workforce has shrunk from 168,654 in 2009 to 161,392 in 2013; a few categories, such as state’s attorneys and public defenders, have increased, while the career-service employees were reduced by about 6,000. The Florida state legislature employs about 150 fewer workers than in 2009.

Tags: Rick Scott , Charlie Crist

Florida Democrats, Having Doubts About Crist in 2014



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Perhaps Florida Democrats aren’t as enthusiastic about adopting Charlie Crist as one of their own as the initial coverage suggested:

Major Democratic financial backers,including trial lawyers and teachers, are gushing about Charlie Crist and his prospects for 2014.

Crist has not announced plans to run for governor again, but polls show him trouncing Republican Gov. Rick Scott by double digits.The lifelong Republican-turned-Democrat at this point looks like he could grab the Democratic nomination without even a serious challenge.

But oh-so-quietly, veteran Democratic fundraisers and strategists across Florida worry about another scenario: a Charlie Crist train wreck that would ensure a second term for one of America’s most vulnerable Republican governors. The wariness and even downright hostility to Crist’s candidacy are part of what’s fueling speculation about Sen. Bill Nelson entering the race.

Grassroots Florida Democrats did their best to defeat Crist in 2000 (in the race for Florida Education Commissioner), in 2002 (for attorney general), in 2006 (in the governor’s race) and in 2010 (as an independent candidate for Senate). After spending a decade telling voters that he’s the wrong choice, they may not be too eager to make him their new standard-bearer.

Sen. Bill Nelson, meanwhile, is a strangely low-profile three-term senator. PPP found that 38 percent approve of his performance, 40 percent disapprove, and 22 percent aren’t sure. This is after winning reelection handily, 55 percent to 42 percent, just a few months ago.

There’s some dispute as to just how bad Rick Scott’s approval rating is, with two pollsters showing extremely bad news and one showing not-so-bad:

PPP’s survey, released Tuesday, said only 33 percent of voters viewed Scott favorably, compared to 57 who did not. The Q Poll, released today, had that rating at 36-49.

But AIF, in an 800-voter survey that Associated Industries of Florida President Tom Feeney said shows “a clear contradiction [to] recently released polling data that has Governor Rick Scott’s approval rating in the low 30s,” said Scott’s approval rating is “holding strong” with 47 percent of Florida voters approving the job Scott is doing (though 49 percent don’t.)

Former Gov. Charlie Crist, above, holding up his change-of-party membership form, which he filled out in the White House.

UPDATE:  A beautiful detail in that story: “Among those who says he encouraged Nelson to run? Crist’s boss and top cheerleader, John Morgan, the trial lawyer whose Morgan & Morgan TV ads blanket much of Florida. Morgan and Nelson discussed it over dinner at Luma in Winter Park in February, but Nelson was non-committal.”

In case you’ve missed Charlie Crist’s television commercial for that law firm:

Tags: Bill Nelson , Charlie Crist , Rick Scott

Suddenly, the GOP Governors Fail Us



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Pardon the depressing portion of today’s Morning Jolt… there’s always John Kerry and laughably inaccurate Obama arguments on the sequester to lighten the load.

Republican Governors, Disappointing Us One After Another

So, my dear righty friends, does this give off a whiff of crony capitalism?

Members of an Iowa board charged with doling out millions to lure business to the state often work for companies that benefit from the incentive programs they oversee, an Iowa Watchdog  review shows.

Additionally, Iowa Economic Development Authority board members donated thousands of dollars to political campaigns, including Gov. Terry Branstad, prior to their nominations to the board. The Republican governor led the charge to create the authority when he took office in 2011 and appointed its entire board, which has to gain final approval from a majority in the Iowa Senate.

The board selected dozens of companies in the past year to receive a combined $189 million in taxpayer money and tax breaks, with the goal of luring more business to Iowa and growing its economy. An Iowa Watchdog review of state campaign donor lists, legislation and records from the authority showed a majority of the money went to fund projects at existing businesses, rather than to land out-of-state or new companies.

“Whenever there is even an appearance of a conflict of interest we abstain,” said Theodore Crosbie, an authority board member and vice president of global plant breeding at Monsanto. “We take the subject seriously. All members have been diligent about this matter.”

But the review found potential conflicts of interest among board members. Specifically, it showed six companies – John Deere, Aviva USA, Monsanto, Cargill, Brownells Inc. and Interstate Companies – received at least $39.6 million in tax incentives and state grants and loans, despite leaders from the respective companies serving on the authority’s board. In exchange, the companies promised to create 983 jobs. State documents did not show a figure for the incentives received by Brownells.

Pretty dispiriting time to be a Republican. Here in Virginia, Bob McDonnell just agreed to a transportation bill that includes way too many different types of tax increases. I think some folks on the Right are understating the fact that the state genuinely needed a steady supply of revenue to pay for transportation projects and repair, but McDonnell began with a plan that would eliminate the gas tax and increase the sales tax. Now the sales tax goes up, the tax on gas is reduced and shifted to wholesale (easier to hide from consumers), AND the  car tax goes up from 3 percent  to 4.3 percent AND there’s a new 0.25 percent sales tax on homes in Northern Virginia AND there’s a new hotel tax. Did you guys forget anything? I mean, for a deal like that, we could have elected Democrats.

We’ve seen Kasich in Ohio and Scott in Florida punt on the Medicare expansion. And now this you-scratch-my-back, I’ll-scratch-yours mess in Iowa. I’m sure everyone involved in Iowa Economic Development Authority will insist the $189 million they’ve spent so far created jobs… but that’s not the point, as it’s hard to spend $189 million and not create any jobs. The point is that any business that has an employee on the Authority board has an enormous advantage in getting economic assistance from the state, an advantage that a small start-up is unlikely to have.

Tags: Bob McDonnell , Iowa , John Kasich , Rick Scott , Terry Branstad

Florida Republicans, Independents Still Like Rubio



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This morning, Quinnipiac finds slightly brighter — or perhaps less dark — news for Florida governor Rick Scott, while Sen. Marco Rubio continues to enjoy positive approval ratings:

Florida voters, especially women, like Gov. Rick Scott more as a person, but all voters still disapprove 50 – 37 percent of the job he’s doing, in a Quinnipiac University poll released today, compared to a 52 – 35 percent disapproval August 5 and a 57 – 29 percent disapproval May 25. . . . U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio does better than Scott among Florida voters. He has a 49 – 31 percent approval rating, with positive scores of 81 – 10 percent among Republicans and 52 – 30 percent among independent voters. Democrats disapprove 52 – 19 percent.

Tags: Marco Rubio , Rick Scott

Obama to Governors: Don’t Cut That Spending!



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This short segment in a Washington Post story on President Obama’s interviews with local television stations is revealing:

In some cases, Obama had a message he wanted to send directly to the people in particular states. It was during a Feb. 16 interview with the Milwaukee station that the public first learned of Obama’s view that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) was launching an “assault” on public-sector unions.

He told the Miami reporter that Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) was “wrong” to cancel plans for a federally backed high-speed train in the state.

The Pittsburgh and Philadelphia stations made news when Obama told them that state lawmakers should be leery of adopting Republican Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed education cuts.

Notice the theme there? Here are three Republican governors of three states who face serious budget problems, and Obama — despite a lack of familiarity with the states’ financial circumstances, admitting that he hasn’t “followed exactly what’s happening with the Wisconsin budget” — weighs in on all three, all with the same theme: No, those spending cuts aren’t necessary. There is no reason to enact those reforms. Yes, you can afford that new train. No, you shouldn’t make those cuts.

It’s bad enough we’ve racked up $4.1 trillion in new debt since Obama was inaugurated. But he’s even fighting spending cuts at the state level.

Tags: Barack Obama , Rick Scott , Scott Walker , Tom Corbett

Quinnipiac’s Last Poll in Florida Seems . . . Just Plain Weird.



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We will know whether this poll is on the mark in a matter of days, but Quinnipiac’s latest results in Florida seem a little odd to me:

In the Florida U.S. Senate race, Republican Marco Rubio leads Gov. Charlie Crist, who is running as an independent, 42 – 35 percent among likely voters, while Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek gets 15 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

In the hotly-contested governor’s race, State Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, the Democrat, has 45 percent to 41 percent for Republican Rick Scott, the independent Quinnipiac University survey, conducted by live interviewers, finds.  Another 11 percent are undecided and 9 percent of those who name a candidate say they might change their mind in this final week before Election Day. 

Today’s results compare with Quinnipiac University’s October 13 survey showing Rubio with 44 percent, followed by Crist with 30 percent and Meek with 22 percent. 

An October 12 poll of the governor’s race showed Scott with 45 percent and Sink with 44 percent.

I suppose that in the Senate race, this could be the traditional late coalescing of support around the top two candidates in a three-way race. But is the Democratic nominee in a hard-fought Senate race really going to be held to 15 percent? Are we to believe that Kendrick Meek will finish with a lower share of the vote than Alvin Greene (usually around 20 percent)?

As for the governor’s race . . . perhaps Floridians are confident that Alex Sink can handle the tough questions, as long as her makeup woman is never far away.

Tags: Alex Sink , Charlie Crist , Kendrick Meek , Marco Rubio , Rick Scott

Florida’s Gubernatorial Race, Coming Down to the Wire



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Florida’s governor’s race is probably going to come down to the wire. This morning, Quinnipiac puts Republican Rick Scott barely ahead of Democrat Alex Sink, 45–44; at the beginning of the month, Scott had a 49–43 lead. That movement may not be statistically significant, but there are a bunch of ominous numbers in this poll for Scott:

Ms. Sink’s surge could be tied to voter belief, 44 – 28 percent, that she was a more ethical businessperson than Scott when both were in the private sector, the independent Quinnipiac University survey finds.  A total of 89 percent of likely voters say a candidate’s record in business is either somewhat or very important to their vote choice.

By a 42 – 37 percent margin, Florida voters have a favorable opinion of Sink, while Scott gets a negative 39 – 46 percent favorability rating.  This compares to the October 1 survey showing her with a split 39 – 39 percent favorability, compared to Scott’s split 41 – 40 percent.

It says a lot about the national environment that Sink can’t get ahead of a Republican with a negative favorability rating.

Tags: Alex Sink , Rick Scott

Scott Ahead in Florida; Obama’s Numbers Dark in Sunshine State



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Quinnipiac has better news for Republicans in Florida than I expected:

Republican Rick Scott holds a 49 – 43 percent lead over State Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, the Democrat, in the race to become Florida’s next governor, according to today’s Quinnipiac University poll of likely voters whose overall low opinion of President Barack Obama appears to be dragging Sink down.

Scott’s lead comes despite a television advertising campaign that voters say they find annoying, the independent Quinnipiac University survey, conducted by live interviewers, finds.  This first likely voter general election survey in Florida in this election cycle can not be compared with prior surveys of registered voters.

Although Scott holds a 6-point lead in the horse race, the candidates have almost identical favorability ratings from Florida likely voters: 39 – 39 percent for Sink and 41 – 40 percent for Scott.

Florida likely voters disapprove 56 – 40 percent of the job President Obama is doing.  Democrats approve 83 – 15 percent, while disapproval is 92 – 6 percent among Republicans and 56 – 38 percent among independent voters.

That’s a pretty abysmal number for Obama in Florida.

For perspective, in late July, Rasmussen found Obama’s job-approval rating at 40 percent and disapproval at 58 percent . . . in South Carolina.

Tags: Alex Sink , Barack Obama , Rick Scott

Good News for GOP in Nevada, Pennsylvania, Ohio, California



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The only bad news for Republicans in the latest batch of polls from Fox News is from Florida’s governor’s race:

Florida: Marco Rubio (R) leads Gov. Charlie Crist (I) in the U.S. Senate race, 43% to 27%, with Rep. Kendrick Meek (D) at 21%. Alex Sink (D) is ahead of Rick Scott (R) in the race for governor, 49% to 41%.

Nevada: Sharron Angle (R) edges Sen. Harry Reid (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 45% to 44%.

Pennsylvania: Pat Toomey (R) leads Rep. Joe Sestak (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 47% to 41%.

Ohio: Rob Portman (R) leads Lee Fisher (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 48% to 41%. John Kasich (R) is ahead of Gov. Ted Strickland (D) in the race for governor, 48% to 43%.

California: Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) edges Carly Fiorina (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 46% to 44%. Meg Whitman (R) is ahead of Jerry Brown (D) in the race for governor, 49% to 43%.

Most of these results are in line with other polls, but I suspect Sharron Angle’s supporters will be cheered at a non-Rasmussen poll* showing her ahead.

UPDATE: Eh, it’s sort of not Rasmussen: “Pulse Opinion Research licenses methodology developed by veteran pollster Scott Rasmussen, providing a survey platform for a host of clients, from individuals to special-interest groups. In fact, we provide the field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys. We have also collected data for presidential campaigns and top-tier political professionals from across the political spectrum. Over the period from 2003 to 2009, Pulse generated 18% of its revenue from Republican sources, 20% from Democrats and 61% from sources not affiliated with either major party.”

Tags: Carly Fiorina , Meg Whitman , Pat Toomey , Rick Scott , Rob Portman , Sharron Angle

The RGA Warms Up to Rick Scott



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Republican Governors Association chairman Haley Barbour, governor of Mississippi, today issued the following statement:

“I called Rick Scott this morning and committed the full resources of the RGA to his election as governor of Florida. I encourage every Republican in Florida to unite behind the Scott campaign and put on their chin straps because the real battle has just begun. It is going to take all of us pulling together to win.

“As a former national party chairman, I know all too well that primaries are tough and can be costly, but they can also make us stronger. The voters of Florida took a close look at Rick Scott and believe he is the candidate who can best revive the state’s economy and put Florida back to work. Rick Scott’s profile as an outsider with years spent in the private sector creating jobs is the type of experience Florida voters are looking for.

“Alex Sink has failed to gain traction with the voters because her record as a banker and politician proves that she cannot be trusted to lead all of Florida. As she competes for Democratic votes with Bud Chiles, we look forward to Rick Scott making the case that he is the clear choice for governor.”

Tags: RGA , Rick Scott

Not Even a, ‘We Must Now Unite Around . . . (sigh) You Know, That Guy.



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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.”

Statement by

BILL MCCOLLUM

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.”

Tags: Bill McCollum , Rick Scott

Great Scott!



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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.”

Tags: Bill McCollum , Rick Scott

The Big Late-August Primary Roundup



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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.

I know many readers adore Hayworth and loathe McCain. I know many were up in arms about the NR endorsement of McCain (don’t yell at me, I wasn’t asked to weigh in). But I can’t take Hayworth seriously after his “get free money from the government” infomercial; the whole image comes way too close to Vince Offer’s “Shamwow” for my tastes.  I suspect that in the end, Hayworth won’t pull off the “greatest political upset of all time” and will, in fact, feel a little slap-chopped.

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 GormanSteven 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.

In the state’s lone House seat, three relatively underfunded Republicans — Paul Donald Beaudry, John M. Mitchell, and Keith Stern — will compete for the chance to try to knock off incumbent Democrat Peter Welch.

Tags: 2010 , Ben Quayle , Bill McCollum , J.D. Hayworth , Jesse Kelly , Joe Miller , John McCain , Jonathan Paton , Lisa Murkowski , Rick Scott

Will Negative Ads Prove Counter-productive in Florida This Year?



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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. 

Then there’s this late poll:

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.

Tags: Alex Sink , Bill McCollum , Charlie Crist , Jeff Greene , Kendrick Meek , Marco Rubio , Rick Scott

The Handful of Races That Might Impact the Next Decade?



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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.

Tags: Bill McCollum , Meg Whitman , Rick Perry , Rick Scott

Can Rick Scott Carry the GOP’s Hopes in Florida?



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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.

Scott led the last four polls by wide margins. The two campaigns are filling up my e-mailbox with blasts back and forth. Jeb Bush’s endorsement has done little for McCollum; the two candidates debate tonight for what is probably the last time until primary day.

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.

Tags: Bill McCollum , Rick Scott

Florida Loves Wealthy Outsiders!



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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.

Tags: Bill McCollum , Jeff Greene , Kendrick Meek , Rick Scott

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