Get ready for a long, nasty general election in the race for Florida governor, as Rick Scott, marching his party establishment with him at the end of a bayonet, prepares to spend massive amounts of cash trying to trash Democrat Alex Sink. It will be bloody. But when a guy feels fit to run for governor after taking the Fifth 75 times in a deposition in his second Medicare fraud case, bloody is what you should expect.
Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Thomas makes it plain (with a hat top to Fla Politics, which has a wealth of good stuff on offer here…) the media, like the GOP establishment, despises Scott, but there’s not a damned thing any of them can do about him:
Scott’s appeal is based on his separation from the corrupt, rusting machinery of political parties and special-interest groups. If Scott embraces them he becomes as fraudulent as McCollum embracing Arizona’s immigration law. And then he takes ownership of the Jim Greer scandal, and any indictments that may come out of it between now and November.
Attacking that corruption was a key part of Alex Sink’s battle plan back when McCollum was a shoo-in to face her in November. That’s what you get with one-party rule by career politicians. But Scott beat her to the punch.
Why would he now put himself in those same crosshairs by embracing the state party?
And why would he put himself in our media crosshairs either?
Let’s be honest. We hate the guy. We think he’s a crook. We think people who vote for him are a bunch of dumb bigots.
We will profess objectivity in this election, just like we did in Obama v. McCain.
But we’re in the tank for Alex Sink.
Scott will do to her what he did to McCollum. He’ll pound her with populist positions from the right and wait for her to crack. And we won’t be able to save her.
(Thomas also says Scott looks like Satan, which makes me not feel so bad for calling Scott “Freddy Kreuger” and the Smoke Monster. You really need to read the whole thing…)
The question is whether Sink will have the resources, and the savvy, to fight back. You’ve got to assume Scott will spend big — he dropped more than $40 million on the primary, so you can probably see that and raise it by what, double, in the general? Signs on the “savvy” part point to yes, since Sink is already drawing praise for her advertising approach from no less a GOP enthusiast as “pollster”/message strategist Frank Luntz. And there’s so much for Sink to work with, given that Scott’s history is sure to turn off even some Republican voters, who will be driven to the polls by Republican money, but at least some of whom are not going to be able to bring themselves to vote for a guy steeped in Medicare fraud. Scott can also forget drawing significant Hispanic support, particularly in Central Florida and other areas outside the hardcore Cuban-American voting bloc. Even there, he stands to lose younger Cuban-American voters due to his obsession with Arizona immigration.
Sink has another potential lifeline out there, waiting in the wings. Lawton “Bud” Chiles, whose third party candidacy is so far having no effect, since he draws his teen-level support equally from both parties, has finally said what Democrats have been waiting to hear:
“I’ll say this till the end: I’m not in this race to create a situation where Rick Scott becomes governor,” Chiles told reporters on Thursday. “I believe every day, and I think what happened in the (Republican) primary is a very strong indication that I have a very viable candidacy. As long as my candidacy is viable, then, if I’m sending the message that Floridians want to hear, I’m going to keep doing that. And if, at some point, I feel that it’s not viable then we can have another discussion about it.”
The Sink camp should be back-channeling with him like, every day.
And Sink has an able team behind her, starting with Steve Schale, who’s consulting with her campaign. She has the full support of the party, which understands that her race is the single most important item on their agenda. They, the DGA and the DNC will throw everything they’ve got at this race, including plenty of GOTV money I assume, to try and close the August 24 turnout gap that Schale and the party say was only due to the lack of a competitive governor’s race on the Dem side.
But Scott will have the backing of his party, with even Jeb Bush appearing to come around, if for no other reason than they can’t afford to be locked out should he win. He’ll have his money. And he’ll have the backing of business interests who frankly, don’t care if he blew up a schoolhouse, so long as he promises to cut their taxes and deregulate their industries.
The early polling shows that Scott is deeply unpopular, including with Republicans, and it shouldn’t be lost on anyone that a majority — 53 percent — of Republicans voted “no” on Scott last Tuesday. Not all of McCollum’s supporters, (or even McCollum himself at this point) are going to feel comfortable with Scott. (BTW, Florida outsiders of the tea party ilk who back Scott calling McCollum a “sore loser” can’t be helpful in unifying that party…)
Bottom line, this thing is going to be long, and it’s going to be ugly. I mean, how can it not be when you’re running against the smoke monster?
Meanwhile: Sink has, not surprisingly, challenged Scott to five debates. He won’t want to do them. He didn’t with McCollum, and won’t now. Why should he give her the free publicity, when he can just buy lots and lots of TV? Let’s see how many debates actually take place…