Everyone's Watching Florida

The political scene in Florida is nothing if not fascinating. In the primary on Tuesday, one man did what no one expected. His name is Rick Scott. He has never run for public office before, but he is now the Republican nominee for governor.

Scott is a businessman who has been in the healthcare field for most of his adult life. What most people probably don’t know is that he was the force behind some very effective TV ads back during the Obamacare debate. He started a group called Conservatives for Patients’ Rights, which challenged the public option the president and Congress wanted to insert into the bill. Scott performed a valuable public service with that organization.

In April, he decided to run for governor. His one advantage was the deep pockets he possessed. As a multimillionaire, he began using his own money to fund statewide commercials outlining his philosophy and plans. I remember seeing those ads and wondering who that guy was. But he certainly sounded solid in his principles.

Now, just a few months later, he is the nominee. He had to beat the presumptive nominee, attorney general Bill McCollum, to get there, and the battle was bruising. Probably every Republican in the state assumed McCollum would be the nominee. When Scott came out of nowhere, and the polls showed he was taking a lead, a startled McCollum fought back. Frankly, the ads on both sides deteriorated over time. Both used wording in their ads that sometimes cast false aspersions on the other candidate. A rift has occurred in the Republican party that may be difficult to heal in time for November 2nd.

Scott’s task now is to reach out and unite with those who fought against him. That won’t be easy since most of the party leaders backed McCollum, who, in his concession speech, did not put out any semblance of an olive branch to Scott. I’m afraid bitterness may prevail.

Scott also has to be sure that his ads in the general election stay focused on the issues and don’t degenerate in the way they did during the primary. I believe Scott’s testimony that he is a born-again Christian. Everything I see about his personal faith indicates it is genuine. Now he needs to put that faith into action in the manner in which his campaign conducts itself. I pray for the best.

In the Senate races, there was no surprise that Marco Rubio won his primary against token opposition. The majority of Republicans seem to be coalescing around his candidacy. Rubio is charismatic and devoted to the original intent of the Founders. That would normally be a winning formula, but he has had to face an unusual circumstance.

This race is unique because current governor Charlie Crist broke from the Republican party and chose to run as an independent. Polls throughout the summer showed that Rubio might be in trouble as Crist could be pulling votes from both Republicans and Democrats. Personally, I have been perturbed by Crist’s apparent lack of principle. He shifts his views whenever expedient. As I’ve noted in a previous post, his primary principle appears to be doing whatever it takes to keep Charlie Crist in office.

Democrats, though, may have stemmed the Rubio bleeding and doomed the Crist candidacy by nominating Kendrick Meek as their Senate candidate. No political prognosticator believes Meek can win this election, but his appeal to the party base probably will siphon off votes that Crist thought he could win. The latest polls have shown that if Meek is the candidate, Rubio’s chances for victory are greater. That is now the reality.

The nation is watching Florida, a state that could help determine our future path.