August 25, 2010

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."

Ha!

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" »