Sink wins Democratic primary, faces Scott in race for governor

08/25/10 Kate Bradshaw
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State Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink easily won the Democratic bid for governor in yesterday’s primary. Now the big question is how she can do battle with a GOP opponent who has already poured nearly $40 million of his own money into his campaign. One thing Sink does have in common with Republican Rick Scott is the stated desire to clean house in Tallahassee.

The Democratic primary was called shortly after 8pm, but the Associated Press didn’t call that of the GOP until close to 11. As poll results trickled in, Attorney General Bill McCollum refused to give a concession speech.

Scott got 46% of the vote, and McCollum received 43. Unknown candidate Mike McCalister won 10%. Scott gave his victory speech shortly after eleven p.m., sticking to the tea party rhetoric that framed the GOP primary contest.

During primary season, the two top GOP hopefuls attacked each other in campaign ads, which Sink says got in the way of the issues. Last night the former Bank of America executive repeatedly used the words “partisan bickering” to describe the gubernatorial race thus far. After her victory speech, she said the first step in the general race is a debate.

Sink also faces Lawton Bud Chiles III, a non-party-affiliated candidate. Yesterday WMNF asked Sink whether she would welcome Chiles to participate in such a debate.

One poll shows that Chiles could take as much as 12% of the vote in November, though he did say he’d consider dropping his candidacy if it looks like a Republican would win. Polls also have shown Sink leading, regardless of who ended up being the GOP nominee for governor, even if Chiles stayed in the race. Scott, an embattled former medical executive, benefited from calling GOP opponent Bill McCollum a career politician in a multi-million dollar political ad barrage. But Sink said that Scott’s ultra conservative leanings – and seemingly bottomless campaign war chest – would not change her message.

Sink’s victory party, which took place at a riverfront hotel in downtown Tampa, was teeming with supporters. Among them was Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner, who said Sink shouldn’t be scared of the supposed anti-incumbent sentiment looming over many political races this year

Another supporter was Paul Orvosh, who said he supports Sink because his labor union endorsed her.

Equal Rights Amendment activist Oestreich said she hopes this November will bring Florida its first female governor.

Last week, Sink chose former state legislator and state attorney Rod Smith for her running mate. Smith told WMNF that this election season is a critical point in Florida’s history.

Sink isn’t the first in her family to bid for the governor’s mansion. Her husband, Democrat Bill McBride, ran unsuccessfully against Jeb Bush in 2002.

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