Politics & Policy

Chiles out, Carroll in

Today’s big political news in Florida is all on the gubernatorial front: Republican Rick Scott’s introduction of state Rep. Jennifer Carroll as the lieutenant-governor candidate and independent candidate Bud Chiles’ formal withdrawal from the race.

Chiles, the son of former Gov. Lawton Chiles, a Democrat, threw his support behind Democrat Alex Sink at a press conference today in Tallahassee.

“After a lot of soul-searching, I came to believe continuing my campaign may well divide good people with common goals, and worse, it might help hand a victory to someone I’m not sure has Florida’s best interests at heart,” Chiles said at this morning’s press conference, flanked by Sink.

Chiles had been polling in the low teens and upper single digits — a significant portion of voters for a tight race in which, according to today’s Rasmussen poll, the main contenders are only separated by one point.

Despite his endorsement of Sink, though, it’s unclear how Chiles’ withdraw from the race will affect the Republican and Democratic tickets. An Aug. 19 poll from Quinnipiac shows Chiles winning support from 16 percent of independents, 13 percent of Democrats and only 7 percent of Republicans, which suggests that a majority of those rooting for him will swing to the left. On the other hand, a Public Policy Polling survey shows those planning to vote for Chiles supported McCain in 2008 and disapprove of President Obama by almost a two-to-one margin. Tom Jensen at PPP’s blog suggests it might end up being a wash.

What could have a more of profound effect on the race is Scott’s choice of Carroll as his running mate. Carroll is an African-American, a woman, an immigrant, and a veteran — a potent mix that may help Scott with each of these demographics.

Asked at this morning’s press conference with Chiles whether the pick would help siphon minority and women voters from her campaign, Sink suggested that identity politics are over.

“I think people, when they go to vote, they’re past all these gender and racial issues,” Sink said. “They’re really looking at the candidates and the messages and the commitments that the candidates have to changing the future of Florida.”

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