May 24, 2010

Paula Dockery calls it quits

State Sen. Paula Dockery: It is with mixed feelings that I end my campaign to be your next governor. People who know me know I'm a tenacious fighter unafraid of long odds, especially when the stakes are so high. But I'm also a realist and understand the costs of effectively competing statewide. At this point in the election cycle, I see no financial path to victory. And so today, with both resignation that the resources are not there and appreciation for the journey we shared, I am ending my campaign to be governor of the great state of Florida. 

May 08, 2010

Poll: Bill McCollum, still in lead, threatened by Rick Scott

Rick Scott unexpectedly jumped in the Republican governor's race, quickly dropped $4.7 million of his own cash and bought enough advertising to get a bounce in the polls.

A once-unknown candidate, the former healthcare executive now trails longtime Florida Republican Bill McCollum by just 14 percentage points in the GOP primary, a Mason-Dixon poll shows.

McCollum, Florida's attorney general, remains the race's frontrunner. McCollum beats Scott and Lakeland Republican Sen. Paula Dockery by taking 38 percent of the vote if the Aug. 24 primary were held today. Before Scott filed to run, a March Mason-Dixon poll showed, McCollum won a far larger share of the Republican vote -- 64 percent. That's a 26 percentage-point loss for McCollum in the Republican primary.

"The biggest change in the race over the past six weeks has been the emergence of Scott,'' said Mason-Dixon pollster Brad Coker. "Backed by a large television advertising campaign to introduce him to voters, Scott has quickly gained the support of 24 percent of likely GOP primary voters and pulled to within just 14 points of McCollum. McCollum's 38-24 lead over Scott doesn't look impressive given his long tenure and high visibility as a Republican office holder.''

McCollum still bests state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, a Democrat, in a theoretical general election matchup. He would get 45 percent of the vote and Sink would garner 36 percent if the Nov. 2 general election were held today. But Sink's numbers have ticked slightly up, and McCollum's down, since the last Mason-Dixon poll.

Almost as soon as Scott entered the race, McCollum's campaign appeared to view him as a threat and sent out emails to some supporters noting that, under Scott's leadership, Columbia/HCA was accused of overbilling the government. The healthcare giant paid a record $1.7 billion settlement in the fraud case.

The $4.7 million Scott has spent in the race in one month slightly exceeds the amount McCollum has raised in a year. Sink has raised the most: almost $6.2 million.

Scott, who left HCA with $10 million in cash and $300 million in stock options, spent about $5 million of his own money opposing President Obama's healthcare plan, and he's on track to spend at least $25 million in the governor's race.

More here on Rick Scott.

Continue reading "Poll: Bill McCollum, still in lead, threatened by Rick Scott" »

May 07, 2010

May 04, 2010

Paula Dockery wants answers on Blackwater prison deal

Sen. Paula Dockery, a Lakeland Republican running for governor, has written DOC Secretary Walt McNeil and DMS Secretary Linda South in an effort to find out more about the private prison Blackwater deal (more here on the background). The letter is here:

Dear Secretary McNeil and Secretary South:

As chair of the Florida Senate’s Committee on Criminal Justice, I am interested in the background of the Blackwater River Correctional Facility (Blackwater) in Santa Rosa County. I am aware that an appropriation of approximately $87,000,000 was made in 2008 to contract for a 2,000 bed private correctional facility to house medium and close custody inmates. The appropriation did not specify a location for the facility or that the facility would primarily house special needs inmates.

I request clarification about the history of the facility, including, but not limited to, the following issues:

• Whether the appropriation was requested by either the Department of Corrections or the Department of Management Services and, if so, the basis for the request.
• A summary of the responses to ITN #DMS 08/09-026 (including vendor, proposed location, proposed cost, and any distinguishing features of the proposal).
• The origin of consideration of Santa Rosa County as a location for the facility and identification of other sites that were considered.
• The origin of the decision that the majority of the inmates in the facility would be special needs inmates who require chronic medical and mental health treatment, and whether that decision affected the costs of construction.

I would appreciate a timely response to this request. It is not intended to be burdensome and you should contact me or my staff if there are difficulties with responding in a timely fashion.

Warm regards,

April 29, 2010

Dockery raps Crist, says best reform comes from within

Lakeland Sen. Paula Dockery, the underdog Republican candidate for governor, criticized Gov. Charlie Crist today for his expected announcement that he'll be running for the U.S. Senate as no party affiliated:

"While I can certainly understand the governor's frustration with Republican legislative leaders, the best way to rebuild our party is from the within,'' Dockery said in a statement today. "A true leader doesn't give up and walk away, but puts his or her shoulder to the wheel to restore our party's integrity and traditional values, which means less government spending, less government bureaucracy and less government involvement in picking the winners and losers in a free marketplace."

April 23, 2010

Dockery: 'We're supposed to be different'

Sen. Paula Dockery releases a statement on the latest news coming out of the Republican Party of Florida:

Instead of just disclosing what they knew to be wrong and getting the issue past us, the old guard of the Republican Party of Florida, including some elected leaders, is now staring at serious federal and state investigations as we move into the final stretch of a very important election cycle.  During this election where the GOP should have the people behind us and the Democrats on the run, we are bogged down with this embarrassing albatross of financial corruption and we are becoming a national disgrace.

If Bill McCollum and other establishment Republicans had shown the slightest leadership and called for the RPOF to come clean, this disastrous situation could have been avoided or we could have put it behind us by now. Instead, we are suffering death by a thousand cuts as each day brings new revelations of outrageous financial mismanagement and downright corruption.

We’re supposed to be different.  As Republicans we believe in fiscal restraint and personal responsibility.  But in an effort to protect a few bad actors, the party leadership decided to circle the wagons, and by doing so, painted the Party in a very unfavorable light. The existence of a severance agreement signed by high-level elected officials is deeply troubling and highlights the extent to which efforts at transparency were thwarted.

April 19, 2010

McCollum's lead narrows, voters don't want his health care lawsuit

The race for governor has narrowed slightly with Republican State Attorney General Bill McCollum ahead of Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, the Democrat's nominee, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll.

   McCollum has been the frontrunner in the race to replace Gov. Charlie Crist since August but, according to the poll of likely voters April 8-13, he's not getting much traction among independents with his plan to sue the federal government over its health care reform.

   Voters say 54-40 percent that it's a "bad idea'' for McCollum to file a lawsuit challenging the plan, and 38-28 percent say it makes them less likely to support his bid for governor. Among independents, the historically crucial voting group in Florida, the idea is particularly unpopular: 41-27 percent oppose the lawsuit challenge.

   "Florida voters mostly disapprove of the health care plan 48 - 44 percent, but trying to stop it in court is not a political winner for McCollum, at least at this point," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

   McCollum easily disposes of a primary challenge by state Sen. Paula Dockery of Lakeland for the Republican nomination 56 -- 7 percent, according to the poll, with 34 percent undecided. Sink has no primary challenger.

Continue reading "McCollum's lead narrows, voters don't want his health care lawsuit" »

April 18, 2010

In first ad, Paula Dockery brickbats McCollum-Sink bank duo

In 30 seconds, Paula Dockery whacks and mocks her opponents and then trumpets herself as the pro-life, pro-gun political outsider opposed to bailouts and corruption.

Not bad for a first ad.

But to be effective, the Lakeland Republican senator needs to spend some of her considerable personal fortune to make sure people see the commercial. A massive ad buy is a surefire way to quickly catch up to fellow Republican Bill McCollum, Florida's attorney general and the primary race's clear frontrunner. McCollum's camp has to feel a little nervous these days now that independently wealthy Republican Rick Scott, R-HCA, has jumped in the race. He has pledged to spend some millions on his own ads and thump McCollum a little.

Dockery's ad is also a shot at Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, the Democratic frontrunner: There's another woman trying to win this race.

April 14, 2010

New gubernatorial candidate comes out swinging

Attorney General Bill McCollum barely notices criticism from his GOP opponent state Sen. Paula Dockery. But it doesn't look like it will work with the new kid on the block, health care executive Rick Scott, who came out swinging on his second day of the campaign.

The issue is a McCollum campaign memo leaked to the Scott campaign (read an excerpt below) in which the Republican front-runner told his surrogates to trash Scott in private. Specifically how Scott's company Columbia/HCA defrauded the federal government and paid a $1.7 billion plea agreement.

"That's a typical dirty trick from a typical professional politician," Scott's campaign said in a statement.

Continue reading "New gubernatorial candidate comes out swinging" »

April 13, 2010

First quarter fundraising roundup

Here are the highlights of the official first quarter fundraising numbers that came out last night. (With a helpful assist from Christina Johnson over at On3PR)

Toplines in the governor's race: Republican Bill McCollum raised just less than 1.4 million in the first three months of 2010, compared with Democrat Alex Sink's 1.1 million. Sink still holds the overall edge in campaign cash, though, with $5 million on hand compared to $3.8 million for McCollum. GOP challenger Paula Dockery has $410,000 on hand. That figure includes $280,000 in personal cash she has put into her campaign.

An interesting note in the AG race. Days before the official numbers came out, Democratic Sen. Dan Gelber announced an impressive haul of $330,000. Turns out that number was pumped up with about $100,000 worth of in-kind contributions. His actual cash haul was $218,000.

Other AG candidates: Sen. Dave Aronberg took in $259,000 to use in the primary against Gelber. On the Republican side: Lt. Gov Jeff Kottkamp raised $232k, Pam Bondi raised $222k and Holly Benson raised $198k.

Senate President Jeff Atwater and Congressman Adam Putnam both opened up wider leads in their races for CFO and Agriculture Commissioner. Atwater took in $446,000 and has almost $2 million on hand. His Democratic challenger, Loranne Ausley has $346,000 on hand. Putnam had about $1.2 million on hand, while Democrat Scott Maddox has $314,000.