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Bill McCollum votes and foresees an early night

Bill McCollum cast his ballot Tuesday morning at his hometown precinct, the First Baptist Church of P1030650 Sweetwater in his hometown of Longwood. Seven TV cameras were waiting for McCollum and his wife Ingrid just beyond the 100-foot boundary line outside the church, where few people were voting.

McCollum wouldn't predict victory, but he said Rick Scott's TV unprecedented advertising barrage failed. "He's thrown up $50-million. We've sustained that, and we've overcome that," he said.

"This has been a grass-roots campaign. It's the strongest grass-roots campaign I've been involved with since the very first one I ran," McCollum said. (In 1980, a young McCollum unseated U.S. Rep. Richard Kelly in a nine-county congressional district stretching from Orlando to the Pinellas beaches).

Asked to speak to undecided voters, he invoked the soundtrack of his TV ads. "They need to weigh my conservative record against Rick Scott's scandals," he said. "When they do that I trust their judgment. I always have." 

McCollum believes in endorsements, editorial board support and even his sign-waving skills."I don't wave signs like everybody does. I actually make eye contact and say hello," said McCollum, who waved a sign on I-4 and headed to St. Petersburg and Jacksonville for more of the same.

Asked if he would welcome Rick Scott's support if he wins, he said: "I want everybody's support as a Republican," before changing the subject to the differences between himself and Democrat Alex Sink.

McCollum expects an early night, based on the estimates in some counties that up to 40 percent of the likely voters have already voted early or by mail. "I think by 8 o'clock or 8:30, we'll probably know," he said. 

-- Steve Bousquet