As the Miami Herald observed yesterday, "Scott benefited from several factors that may not be present in the general election". Meanwhile, the "GOP air-kisses are pretty tortured. More on this, and our digest of, and commentary on the rest of Florida's political news and punditry below.
"Serious dent" in RPOF attempt at party unity
"Bill McCollum doesn't forget easily."
Two days after he lost the Republican nomination for governor, McCollum still refuses to support winner Rick Scott, and continues to raise questions about his former rival's character."Bill McCollum refuses to back Rick Scott, cites qualms". See also "Bill McCollum says he has 'serious questions' about Rick Scott's honesty, won't endorse him", "Florida primary results: Can Rick Scott, GOP 'insiders' unite?", "McCollum witholding endorsement" and "McCollum says he still has 'serious questions' about Scott".
In his first public appearance since conceding the race, McCollum said Thursday that he called Scott to "congratulate him and wish him well.'' But he didn't bury the hatchet in one of the nastiest primary's in state history.
"I still have serious questions about issues of his character, his integrity, his honestly -- things that go back to Columbia/HCA,'' McCollum said, referring to Scott's former hospital chain, which paid a $1.7 billion fine after a federal criminal investigation. "As other voters will do, I will judge him throughout this campaign.''
The attorney general's remarks put a serious dent in the message of party unity and reopened a vulnerability Democratic candidate Alex Sink is likely to exploit in the general election.
Daniel Ruth: "This isn't a fence that needs to be mended. It's the Great Wall of Thrasher. "
In case no one has noticed, Tallahassee is not only crawling with incumbents, but Republican incumbents. And Scott didn't just run against McCollum. He ran against the Republican establishment, which pushed back with $14 million in negative advertising casting Scott as a corporate charlatan with all the integrity of Snidely Whiplash tossing Nancy Reagan into the streets.Ruth continues:
It is always one of the oldest axioms that politics makes for strange bedfellows. The forced detente between Scott and state GOP chairman John Thrasher looks a bit like Paris Hilton canoodling with Dick Cheney.
Thrasher issued his tortured air-kiss to Scott because he didn't have much choice. If Scott goes down in flames against Alex Sink, Thrasher hardly wants to the labeled as the guy who didn't support — at least publicly — the party nominee. This had to feel like Gen. George Patton having to apologize for slapping the shell-shocked buck private."GOP air-kisses are pretty tortured".
Still, in the weeks ahead, would it surprise anyone if Thrasher secretly wore a "Sink For Governor" campaign button behind his lapel?
The Miami Herald editorial board: "Voters are right to be concerned that the Scott campaign has set a new benchmark for mega-bucks candidates eager to make a name for themselves in politics. But Mr. Scott also benefited from several other factors that may not be present in the general election. Most important:"
He was able to take advantage of a revolt by GOP voters against their own establishment, whose leaders were tainted by a series of scandals in Tallahassee. Mr. Scott's TV ads were particularly effective in raising questions about Attorney General McCollum's connection to indicted former GOP Chairman Jim Greer."Rick Scott's deep pockets".
The general election will be a different game. Democratic voters, who stuck by Rep. Kendrick Meek in his race for the U.S. Senate against another upstart outsider, billionaire Jeff Greene, are not as alienated as voters in the other party.
Mr. Scott will also have a hard time pushing the "insider'' theme against Democratic candidate Alex Sink, the state's chief financial officer, whose party has been out of power in Tallahassee for a decade.
"Chiles wants 527s to disclose more information, The debate over the debates begin in the U.S. Senate race, Ausley goes after Atwater again." "Campaign roundup for Friday".
"Floridians question if gender equality has been reached"
"This week marked the 90th anniversary of women winning the right to vote. ... It's difficult to imagine a time when women couldn't vote. Today, registered women voters outnumber men in both Miami-Dade and Broward counties -- where they made up 56 percent of voters in the last presidential election. But it took decades of political fighting for women to see the ratification of the 19th amendment -- granting women the right to vote -- in the United States Constitution on Aug. 26, 1920. Florida's Legislature, however, did not symbolically ratify the amendment until 1969." "90 years later, equality issues unresolved".
Chiles won't rule out withdrawing
William March: "Bud Chiles, no-party candidate for governor, held a news conference Thursday to call for campaign finance reform, but also said he won't rule out withdrawing from the governor's race if he thinks he can't win." "Chiles doesn't rule out leaving governor's race".
"Undemocratic fixture remains in elections laws"
The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "The primaries are over, and voters can relax for a minute now that the attack ads and robo-calls have ceased, for a while anyway. Unfortunately, there is one undemocratic fixture in state elections laws that continues to haunt the political process — the write-in candidate." "Lawmakers need to write off the write-in loophole".
"The incoming speaker of the Florida House told Republican candidates Thursday to campaign as conservatives but not to over-promise about cutting fraud, waste and mismanagement in state government." "Incoming Speaker of the House tells GOP candidates not to over-promise".
Education adequacy lawsuit
"A circuit court judge has ruled that a parents group can continue with a court challenge of the state’s education system, rejecting a request by the Legislature to throw the suit out." "Lawsuit Over Education Adequacy Goes Forward".
"McCollum’s illegal immigration, health care fights at issue in A.G. race".
Teabaggers in a dither
"First-term Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson has a surprisingly gentle first ad of the general election season. Grayson stands as a defender of public schools in the ad, saying, 'My five children go to public school right here in Orlando. I fought for $200 million to save our schools for them, and for us.' Then a chorus of children launch into a chant of 'Alan Grayson saved our schools!'" "‘Grayson saved our schools!’ chant children in his first general election ad".
"[Redstate blogger] says opposition to New York Muslim community center 'probably saved' campaign".
How Scott did it
"How Rick Scott Held on for Victory". Related from Nancy Smith: "Voters' Iron Will, Not Rick Scott's Money, Won the Day".
Money talks ...
"Bill McCollum, running for Florida governor, and Lisa Murkowski, running for re-election as senator from Alaska, may have fought back too late in their respective Republican primaries. Their opponents attacked them early and often, costing McCollum the election Tuesday and leaving a stunned Murkowski on the edge of defeat." "2010 Political Ad Spending Crushing 2006 Levels".
Scott's Running mate possibilities
"Will the GOP gubernatorial nominee stay outside or go inside for a running mate? Here are possibilities ...". "Who Will Be Rick Scott's Lieutenant?".
Will blow back hurt Sink?
"The race for chief financial officer is heating up with a web attack ad by Democratic challenger Lorranne Ausley on a subject that may prove perilous for her party’s nominee for governor." "Will Loranne Ausley's Attack Blow Back on Alex Sink?".
Department of Veterans Affairs
"Former state Comptroller Bob Milligan will head the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs on an interim basis." "Fla. Veterans' Affairs gets new boss". See also "Crist, Cabinet welcome Lt. Gen. Milligan".
Chiles brings it home
"Lawton 'Bud' Chiles brought his bid for governor to a leafy Tampa neighborhood Thursday and condemned the influence of special interest groups that bankroll negative TV ads under the banner of innocent-sounding committees."
Chiles chose to make his point at the Hyde Park home of an accounting firm that handles the paperwork for dozens of those committees, nearly all of them working to elect or defeat Republican candidates. The firm, Robert Watkins & Company, specializes in helping the groups comply with election and tax laws."Chiles says voters should know who's behind those caustic political commercials".
The groups have names like "Florida Liberty Fund" and "Prosperity Florida." Chiles counted $22-million in donations over several years from an array of business interests, from sugar to tobacco to utilities, and he gathered available information on the state elections website, http://www.dos.state.fl.us/.
Kudos to PPP
"In the final days of the campaign, there were three public polls released, and only Public Policy Polling (PPP) called both of the races right:"
Actual results:"PPP nails the Florida primary". Related: "Unpredictable governor's race defied pollsters".
Governor (R): Scott 46, McCollum 43
Senate (D): Meek 57, Greene 31
PPP's final poll::
Governor (R): Scott 47, McCollum 40
Senate (D): Meek 51, Greene 27
Mason-Dixon's final poll::
Governor (R): McCollum 45, Scott 36
Senate (D): Meek 42, Greene 30
Quinnipiac's final poll::
Governor (R): McCollum 39, Scott 35
Senate (D): Meek 39, Greene 29
"Palin's picks faring well in primaries".
How low can Florida go?
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Voters should keep some facts in mind:"
Florida already has one the lowest rates — 39th — among states with a corporate income tax. That's part of the reason why the conservative Tax Foundation has rated Florida's business tax environment the nation's fourth friendliest."Rick Scott and Alex Sink should put some thought into tax reform".
And if Florida were to cut or eliminate its tax, it would lose some or all of the funding behind a program, popular with both parties, that allows corporations to divert their tax toward scholarships for kids from poor families to attend private schools.
TaxWatch has put more thought into the issue. It is not calling for the corporate income tax to be scrapped, but says Florida puts itself at a disadvantage in competing for business with other states by how it imposes the tax. It slaps the levy not just on a corporation's sales in Florida, but also on its property and payroll in the state. That formula discourages investment and hiring in Florida.
TaxWatch has concluded that applying Florida's corporate income tax only to sales would create an incentive for businesses to locate or expand their property and payrolls in the state. Over time, that would boost business-tax revenues. The think tank's conclusions are backed up by several academic studies and the experience of other states.
Reforming the corporate income tax probably isn't on the list of promises from candidates because it doesn't work well as a campaign slogan. (It's not a very sexy subject for an editorial, either.)
But it's the kind of idea that candidates touting their business smarts should be advocating. They should be more serious about fixing the economy, and have more faith in voters to get beyond sound bites.
Law loosening planning requirements tossed
"A judge on Thursday struck down a 2009 law loosening state planning requirements and controls on urban sprawl that development and business interests say are stifling Florida's growth. In a lawsuit filed by four counties and 16 cities, Chief Circuit Judge Charles Francis ruled the Legislature violated the Florida Constitution by requiring local governments to implement the law without providing the dollars to do it or a means to raise them."
Florida Chamber of Commerce Vice President Adam Babbington said his organization was disappointed."Judge rules state growth law unconstitutional".