August 26, 2010

McCollum: 'I still have serious questions' about Scott

Bill McCollum called Rick Scott Wednesday to congratulate him on his victory in the GOP primary -- but he refused to endorse him in the race.

"I still have serious questions ... about issues with his character, his integrity, his honestly, things that go back to Columbia/HCA and I have not had the occasion to really actually even get acquainted with him," McCollum said after the Cabinet meeting. "As other voters will do I will judge him throughout this campaign."

So much for GOP unity ...

McCollum said he also spoke to Democrat Alex Sink and independent candidate Bud Chiles. He declined to go into detail about any of the conversations.

August 25, 2010

RPOF censors Sen. Dockery's attaboy for Rick Scott

Republican Sen. Paula Dockery who initially ran for governor only to see the Republican establishment back Bill McCollum, gushed in a press release last night about Rick Scott's win and the lessons for the Republican Party of Florida:

"For too long, true Republican principles have been put by the wayside in favor of the special interest agendas that fund the party elite. I wholeheartedly look forward to what tonight's election results mean: a revitalized party that is beholden only to the conservative electorate who demonstrated their trust and confidence with the power of their vote."

RPOF didn't want to touch it. Spokeswoman Katie Betta wrote:

Senator Dockery,  

I apologize, but we are not able to send this out as it violates the portion of our e-mail policy that relates to negative comments regarding the RPOF and/or other Republicans.

If there is any way you can revise this release, I’d be happy to run it through our political department again.

It's the same RPOF that trashed Rick Scott's "false rhetoric." It then censored Scott's attempted rebuttal on the grounds that he was making inappropriate comments. More here on that.

The sour grapes file: Bill McCollum hasn't called Rick Scott. Alex Sink has

Newly crowned GOP gov. candidate Rick Scott is slowly mending fences with the guys who supported opponent Bill McCollum in their effort to tear him down.

After being stunned into radio silence after Scott won, Senate President Mike Haridopolos, House Speaker Dean Cannon and House Republican leader Adam Hasner sent out written statements of support. Haridopolos faced the press today, swallowed his pride and said he was ready to "bury the hatchet."

Scott said he didn't sleep last night, has been besieged with calls and hasn't been able to keep track of his emails. So he's not sure who has reached out to him. Except for one guy.

"I know McCollum hasn’t called me," Scott said.

Sound familiar? McCollum in 2004 held out his endorsement of Mel Martinez in their bruising U.S. Senate primary.

Scott faces Democrat Alex Sink in the primary (along with indie Bud Chiles). Even she reached out to Scott. She called him last night to congratulate Scott on his victory and, according to a spokeswoman, "emphasized that she hoped this would be a race focused on the issues."

Haridopolos calls Scott attacks 'water under the bridge'

One of the big under-the-radar winners last night: incoming Senate President Mike Haridopolos, who won all legislative races where he made an endorsement. “I really wanted to transform the Senate and I think with our election victories last night it is a reality now,” he said.

Haridopolos backed Jim Norman, Ellyn Bogdanoff, Lizbeth Benacquisto and Miguel Diaz de la Portilla who all won handily in the primaries and saw other conservatives like John Thrasher and Thad Altman win party bids for re-nomination.

He is trying to get a two-thirds majority (27) to make the Republican agenda virtually unstoppable and right now Haridopolos said he is predicting at a 28 member majority. "I was very aggressive about playing in Republican primaries because I wanted to make sure the Senate is a fiscally conservative place to do business,” he said. “I think last nights victories are a sign that if I support somebody, I’m going to be there 100 percent for them.”

The only race where he made an endorsement and didn't win: governor. 

Continue reading "Haridopolos calls Scott attacks 'water under the bridge'" »

Rick Scott: "dead man walking" when it comes to immigration?

Rick Scott won the GOP primary, but immigration advocates caution he's going to have a tough time attracting support from Hispanics -- given his strong championing of Arizona's immigration law.

"While it did in the short term help Scott emerge from the primary, it leaves him in the position of almost being a dead man walking when you look at his favorability rating," said Fernand Amandi, vice president of Democratic pollster Bendixen & Amandi. "How does Scott tap into any Hispanic support I think is a key question for Florida."

He and GOP lobbyist Ana Navarro, who dropped her support for Bill McCollum after he backed legislation even tougher than Arizona's, suggested on a conference call that it was McCollum's walkback on immigration that at least partly cost him the primary. McCollum won Miami-Dade -- but turnout there was below that of the rest of the state, Amandi said.

"You look at a three point loss and the county with the biggest number of Hispanic Republicans being Miami-Dade underperformed," Amandi said. "Several factors were in play but how could one of them not have been the 11th hour move on immigration...which alienated a significant amount of his Hispanic Republican supporters."

In wake of McCollum's loss, Delmar tweets Bible verse

Delmar Johnson at a 2008 unity rally in Hernando County. (Times photo, Will Vragovic)

Right around midnight on primary day, the Republican Party of Florida establishment got a message from an old friend: Delmar Johnson, the party's former executive director. Johnson, ousted as part of the Jim Greer scandal that rocked the party earlier this year, tweeted this message:

"Galatians 6:7-8."

Buzz will save you searching for your Bible. Here are the verses, as found in the King James version:

"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting."

The timing so soon after Bill McCollum's shocking loss to Rick Scott in the Republican primary for governor hardly seems a coincidence.

And Greer's wife, Lisa, had this message on her Facebook page: "Boy that Karma sure can be a bitch."

Did immigration stance cost McCollum the election?

Yes, at least according to some Hispanic Republicans speaking on Spanish-language radio Wednesday morning.

Bill McCollum, who lost the Republican gubernatorial nomination statewide, still defeated Rick Scott in Miami-Dade County.

GOP lobbyist and fundraiser Ana Navarro, who dropped her support for McCollum after he proposed a law "tougher" than the controversial immigration bill in Arizona, said McCollum's stance lowered his margin of victory in Miami-Dade -- and kept many Hispanic voters from going to the polls.

"I think he can blame [immigration]," Navarro said. "I think if you speak frankly with McCollum himself, he would admit it was a mistake."

It was McCollum's sudden support of an Arizona-style immigration bill -- after originally distancing himself from that kind of legislation -- that hurt him, said Carlos Curbelo, Republican in a runoff for a Miami-Dade School Board seat.

"That change took away much of McCollum's credibility," he said, while adding that Scott, who has attacked McCollum's immigration proposal, faces a difficult task ahead in trying to woo Florida Hispanics.

"Scott early on lost his credibility, because he made a series of comments that some interpreted as offensive," Curbelo said, likely referring to Scott's comments about Hispanics eating dinner late and not starting weddings on time.

The other Bill McCollum slayer

Sure, Rick Scott beat Bill McCollum thanks to $50m in campaign spending and a year where political outsiders are in danger.

But here's a lesser-known reason: spokeswoman Jen Baker (nee Coxe). Her mantra this campaign season: "You don't understand. Bill McCollum can't win."

It's sounded so.... well... so 2004.

Back then, she was the mouthpiece for Mel Martinez's bruising U.S. Senate campaign against McCollum, a race that left McCollum supporters bitter to this day. Her fiery rhetoric matching her hair, Baker talked about how "soft" Republican support for McCollum was, how he wasn't conservative enough for a GOP primary, etc.

Not much seems to have changed with McCollum in six years. Nor Baker, who celebrated her 30-something-ish birthday on election night. So it made sense that Rick Scott would hire the Citrus County-raised political junkie, who has a ready-made understanding of McCollum's vulnerabilities, and a willingness to exploit them at every turn.

"He can't win. I've seen the polling," she said repeatedly in the past few weeks. When a reporter (me) said in late July that McCollum would take it, she had one response: "la-la land."