Leading in GOP primary polls for Governor, McCollum hits Tampa

08/23/10 Kate Bradshaw
WMNF Drive-Time News Monday


Candidates facing statewide primaries are crisscrossing the state today in a mad dash to get their names out ahead of tomorrow’s primary. Attorney General Bill McCollum, a Republican running for governor, made a stop in Tampa today. He said he was pretty sure he’ll soon be focusing on presumptive Democratic gubernatorial nominee Alex Sink.

Attorney General McCollum has gotten endorsements from top Republicans across the country, from Mitt Romney to Jeb Bush. In a crowded burger joint earlier today, McCollum said he’s confident that voters will look beyond labels like career politician when they go to the polls tomorrow.

McCollum’s major primary opponent is Rick Scott. He’s a wealthy political newcomer who, according to reports filed with the Florida Division of Elections, has spent $39 million to fund his own campaign. Scott’s ads accused McCollum of being a Tallahassee insider, giving him a lead in the polls throughout much of primary season. McCollum said money shouldn’t determine the outcome of an election.

One of Scott’s attack ads, which he refuses to take off the air despite the state GOP’s requests, connects McCollum with former party chair Jim Greer, who fell from grace amid charges of corruption. McCollum said the accusations in the ad are patently not true.

The attorney general now has a four-point lead in the polls. Last week he led Scott by nine points. Today McCollum said polls always fluctuate and that he trusts he’ll be the GOP nominee for governor because of how critical this year’s general election is to his party.

The big question about McCollum is whether or not he can compete financially with presumptive Democratic nominee Alex Sink who has more than $7million in campaign funds in the bank. McCollum said he’s confident that once the primaries are over, GOP momentum ahead of the November 2 general election should inspire Republican voters to contribute to his campaign.

More than a dozen supporters came out to the event. One of these was a heart surgeon who identified himself as Dr. Vijay. He said part of the reason he supports the Attorney General was that he has an intimate knowledge of the way Scott handled Columbia/HCA, Scott’s former company that paid a record $1.7 billion fine in the wake of fraud charges.

Plant City Republican Mike McCallister is also on tomorrow’s GOP primary ballot for governor. Democrat Brian Moore faces state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink in tomorrow’s Democratic primary.

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