Sink not fazed by polls showing Scott ahead listen06/10/10 Kate Bradshaw
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In November, Floridians will choose their next governor. In a year many say is defined by anti-incumbent sentiment, the polls are now showing voters favoring wealthy yet controversial newcomer Rick Scott, a Republican. But Democratic front runner Alex Sink wants to give whoever else is on Novemberâ€™s ballot a run for their money.
The latest poll shows millionaire medical executive Rick Scott leading his GOP opponent, Attorney General Bill McCollum, 44 to 31 percent. Another poll shows Sink, would trail Scott by 10 percentage points if the two were to square off in November. But most people also said they could change their minds before the August primary. Sink says she has a similar attitude about the numbers.
"The polling numbers are just going to be all over the place. I think two different poles came out, just in the last two days. There will probably be three or four more, next week. What it proves is that this is going to be a very competitive race. And I believe Floridians are starting to pay attention to who they want to have as their next governor."
Sink said today that this year is an odd one for politics. You have the oil disaster. The tea party. Senate Bill 6. Then thereâ€™s that senate race. But what may be one of the bigger thorns in the side of the former bank executive whoâ€™s hoping to become Floridaâ€™s first female governor, is Lawton â€œBudâ€ Chiles III, whoâ€™s thrown his hat into the gubernatorial ring as an independent. Sink said itâ€™s the message that matters, not the people running against her.
"My approach to this year is to be sure that Floridians hear my voice. That they hear my voice and my plans. That they know about my business plan. About my plan for the economy, because what Floridians care about right now, they care about jobs, they care about their kids' school, and the education system. That's what you're going to hear me talk about for the next five months. And give the voters the opportunity to hear my voice. And I'm confident they'll vote for me when they get to November 2nd."
Keith Bailey, a Republican, asked Sink if sheâ€™d rather run against Scott or McCollum in the general election.
"Actually, because there's such an active Republican Primary, it's brought a lot more attention. People now know, there is a governors race this year, which pleases me to no end. Whoever the Republicans choose, whoever you choose, is fine with me because I have a real vision for the kind of state that I believe the people of Florida want."
Bailey said later he wasnâ€™t exactly floored by Sink's response. But he may opt for Sink if Scott - whose former company, Hospital Corporation of America, paid a record one point seven billion dollar fine on fraud charges â€“ gets the GOP nod.
"Possibly. Of course, it depends on who her opponent is. I really, would have a hard time voting for Rick Scott because of his ethical issues when he was with the hospital corporation. Once again, I'd have a hard time voting for him. So, in that particular case, I might very likely."
If Sink and Scott did become their partiesâ€™ respective nominee, that would mean both the Republican and Democratic gubernatorial nominees were once corporate executives. Sink, a former president of Florida Operations at Bank of America, said Tallahassee was in bad need of reform, in a big part because of special interests. One audience member asked her if her former company had any lobbyists in the state capitol during her tenure. She said yes, his name was Mike Fields and heâ€™s well-known in Tallahassee. But itâ€™s not what you think.
"His important role, for me, as the chief executive of our company, was to keep me informed of the legislation in Tallahassee, so that I could ensure that there was very fair legislation."
Most of the answers Sink gave to audience questions fell pretty squarely within the parameters one might expect of a fiscally conservative Democrat. She wants to beef up public transit in Florida. She wants to see campaign finance reform. She sees places in Floridaâ€™s budget where 700 million dollars could be cut, and sheâ€™d reinvest that money in education. But gay marriage? Not so much.
"I don't support gay marriage. I think that's an entirely religious decision that individuals can make."
When it came to gay adoption, she said that issue warranted more of a case-by-case approach. But Sinkâ€™s take on gay marriage was enough to change Ann Donnellyâ€™s mind about Sink.
"I came here as a supporter of Alex Sink. After her bigotry towards gays, I won't vote for her."
But her friend, Irma Donohoe, said she was quite impressed with Sink.
"I'm so glad I came today because although I've rather liked Alex Sink, I never listened to a speech by her. I really didn't know very much about her. But I liked her answers to everything. So well that I'm not only gonna to vote for her, I'm gonna try to get out someone to vote for her."
USF student Christian Hoss said he wasnâ€™t impressed with anything Sink said, but that given the current political climate, heâ€™s not surprised that the Democrats didnâ€™t push out a more liberal candidate.
"That's another thing that I understand. When the Democrats are not favored, the Democratic Party is not going to push out their best politician to run for high office. So, I can understand why, maybe, the most qualified aren't really running because they don't want to waste their political clout, I guess you would call it."
But Wendy Pacer said she wants to spread the message about Sink.
"I was really excited about her message, and we will definitely be supporting Alex Sink. I'm telling all the teachers that we're going to be sunk, if we don't get Alex Sink in the governors office."