Orlando, Florida (CNN) – Bill McCollum conceded the governor’s race in the early hours of Wednesday morning, but he has yet to speak with Republican nominee Rick Scott.
Both campaigns said Wednesday that phone calls between the two candidates have not been exchanged, an unsurprising development among Florida GOP insiders who acknowledge a deep reservoir of ill will between the two men after months of bruising campaigning.
McCollum spokeswoman Kristy Campbell said her boss will spend the fall working to elect Republicans up and down the Florida ballot, but would not say whether the Attorney General will endorse Scott.
McCollum indicated as much on the evening before the primary vote, when he told reporters “it would be very difficult for me” to back Scott as the GOP nominee.
“I would have to sit down with him and be persuaded,” McCollum said Monday. “I see lots of problems with him, personally, right now.”
Much of that ill will stems from Scott’s attempts to tarnish McCollum’s integrity with a television advertisement tying him and his establishment allies to disgraced former Florida GOP leader Jim Greer, a dubious charge that had the Republican Governors Association urging Scott to pull the ad.
The bad blood may be one reason that the Republican Party of Florida called off a pair of unity rallies scheduled for Wednesday that were supposed to feature Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association.
The RGA gave Scott, a millionaire former health care executive, only a half-hearted endorsement in a statement released Tuesday night lamenting the negativity of the campaign. “That said, the primary is over, Rick Scott is the nominee, the general election has begun, and our party now looks forward,” an RGA spokesman said.
Scott will move on to face state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink in the general election, and Democrats were already hoping to exploit the GOP rift.
“It’s going to be very hard for the Republican Party to heal behind Rick Scott,” Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine said on MSNBC.
Still, while the two candidates have yet to speak, GOP insiders in Florida told CNN Wednesday that Scott is already extending an olive branch to party figures and members of the state legislature who supported McCollum.
State Sen. John Thrasher, the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida and a vocal McCollum supporter, called Scott Tuesday evening to offer congratulations.
And Scott is spending Wednesday talking with House and Senate leadership to determine if they share they same agenda moving forward.
“There are already discussions going on,” said state Sen. Mike Haridopolos, another big McCollum backer. “We are going to be getting together in the next few days. He ran as an outsider and it made sense to bang on the elected officials. It’s part of politics.”
Former Florida GOP chairman Al Cardenas said Scott enters the general election as a five or six point underdog.
Cardenas predicted that Scott must hold onto more than 80 percent of Republican voters if he hopes to win, while also shoring up support among independent voters and business leaders who are already being courted by Sink.
“He has got to walk a tight rope,” Cardenas told CNN. “Obviously he doesn’t want to lose the people who got him the nomination, but he will need the establishment voters too. He got less that 50 percent of total Republican vote together.”
With Election Day just over two months away, Cardenas said, “He has got to close the sale in a very short period of time.”