August 25, 2010

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."


McCollum's bitter concession, refuses to endorse Scott

Bill McCollum's concession:

The votes today have been tallied and I accept the voters’ decision.

This race was one for the ages. No one could have anticipated the entrance of a multi-millionaire with a questionable past who shattered campaign spending records and spent more in four months than has ever been spent in a primary race here in Florida.

While I was disappointed with the negative tone of the race, I couldn’t be more proud of our campaign and our supporters for fighting back against false and misleading advertising when we were down by double-digits.

Continue reading "McCollum's bitter concession, refuses to endorse Scott" »

August 24, 2010

At least one GOP leader embraces Scott: Michael Steele

The Republican Governor's Association, which backed Bill McCollum in Florida, issued a clipped statement that didn't even congratulate Rick Scott.  "Intraparty struggles are often difficult to watch, and the contest in Florida has been a good example of that. That said, the primary is over, Rick Scott is the nominee, the general election has begun, and our party now looks forward."

Hardly a ringing endorsement.

Leave it to the controversial chairman of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele, to step up for Scott. "Rick Scott is a strong conservative candidate for Governor, who will no doubt be victorious against liberal Democrat Alex Sink, who has supported President Obama in everything from his government takeover of health care to his failed $862 billion stimulus."

AP, CNN, NYT call it for Rick Scott

This comes only a few minutes after Bill McCollum addressed supporters and did not concede the race. Scott to speak to his supporters in five minutes.

Check out the reaction from the Republican Governors Association:
“Intraparty struggles are often difficult to watch, and the contest in Florida has been a good example of that. That said, the primary is over, Rick Scott is the nominee, the general election has begun, and our party now looks forward.

“Alex Sink has had months to run in a clear field and has not gained any traction, showing that her message has failed to connect with voters.  She represents the policies of Washington, D.C. Democrats: higher taxes, runaway spending and greater intrusion into the everyday lives of Floridians.

“Couple her flagging campaign with the legitimate candidacy of Bud Chiles, and there is a real battle being waged for Democratic votes in Florida.”

GOP stops unity rally, blames logistics

A planned unity rally for Republicans tomorrow morning has been scrapped, according to Republican Party of Florida spokeswoman Katie Betta. She maintained that the issue is not with a lack of unity or any hurt feelings between Bill McCollum and Rick Scott. (Bad blood with those two? Nah.... What's $70 million in attack ads between friends?)

Nope, Betta said it's simply an issue of coordinating several statewide candidates on short notice when they are stationed from Pensacola to South Florida for Election Day watch parties. "Logistically it wasn’t something that was going to work out," Betta said.

(It also didn't help that AG candidates Pam Bondi and Jeff Kottkamp don't seem to have much love lost for each other.)

RPOF will hold a Sept. 10 fundraiser featuring Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and the party's slate of general election candidates.

'Release the deposition' guy shouts out Rick Scott presser

Armed with a bullhorn and shouting "release the deposition," a Bill McCollum supporter interrupted a presser by Rick Scott just before he cast his ballot on Election Day at St. Ann's Catholic Church in Naples. The anonymous young man, dressed in a doctor outfit, would only say his name is "Doctor Dave." He has stalked Scott around the state to raise awareness about a deposition Scott gave in a case involving a chain of walk-in clinics, Solantic. The deposition, given six days before Scott ran for office, is sealed pursuant to a settlement agreement. Scott won't release it, saying it's a "private matter."

Problem is, that's fodder for McCollum's special-interest fueled Florida First Initiative political committee, which paid for the rental vehicle driven by Doctor Dave. It looks like he lost his partner, "Inmate 2010," who's dressed in black-and-white jail stripes.

Video coming later.....

A insider's guide to the primary election

Will Rick's voters show up?: Turnout could be a major factor in the GOP primary for governor. Rick Scott is hoping thousands of casual voters flock to the polls to oust career politicians. A lower turnout could benefit Bill McCollum, who has the party infrastructure and a stronger base of supporters. A win by Scott tomorrow would set the GOP establishment on fire -- it would likely end McCollum’s political career and put his supporters on the spot over who they will back in November. Or how many people sick with the fight will pick third-wheel Mike McCalister?

Will Haridopolos get his candidates? A handful of key state Senate primaries could test the power of incoming President Mike Haridopolos. The Merritt Island Republican has weighed in on several races: Jim Norman over Kevin Ambler in Hillsborough’s District 12; Miguel Diaz de la Portilla over Julio Robaina in Miami’s District 36; Ellyn Bogdanoff over Carl Domino in District 25 in Palm Beach; and Lizbeth Benacquisto over Sharon Merchant in the sprawling Fort Myers-to-Palm Beach District 27. The winners in the two Palm Beach seats face tougher races in November, while the other two primary winners will likely capture a Senate seat tomorrow evening.

Will the Greer/GOP-spending scandal hurt candidates? Former GOP Chairman Jim Greer is gone but his connections to candidates and the party’s legacy of spending on credit cards remains. In Pasco County, former Marco Rubio aide Richard Corcoran is getting reminded of his party credit card spending in his state House race (HD45). And in Seminole County, House candidate Jason Brodeur still thinks Jim Greer is the “bees knees.” Will it hurt him?

Continue reading "A insider's guide to the primary election" »

August 23, 2010

GOP censored Scott response to Thrasher

Florida Republican Chairman John Thrasher sent a message to party faithful titled "Rick Scott" on Sunday night, blasting him (again) for invoking the Jim Greer scandal in the campaign. (See his message below.)

Scott's camp sought to respond, but the party refused to send the message, which says "denying the facts to paint a better picture of Bill McCollum is the wrong way to do it." (Read the whole thing here.)

Party spokeswoman Katie Betta explained the party routinely sends campaign emails to its list. But it also reserves the right to reject those "that contain personal or otherwise inappropriate attacks towards other Republicans." As for the email from Thrasher, which contained some choice words, Betta said the chairman can send what he wants.

Continue reading "GOP censored Scott response to Thrasher" »