August 25th, 2010
02:12 PM ET
12 years ago

Florida GOP struggles to overcome rift after Scott win

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption ="Rick Scott has not yet spoken to his primary opponent in the aftermath of Tuesday's primary."]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.”

Filed under: 2010 • Florida • Rick Scott
soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. worksforme

    Rick Scott should be Richard Cranium... sure looks and acts like one. Looks like you bought your way here Dick.

    August 25, 2010 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  2. Thank God Florida Republicans Have The Common Sense to Nominate . . .

    A total fraud artist, scammer and con man to be their governor.
    Why even bother with the pretense that you care about anything other than the promotion of a corporate olighargy to take over America

    August 25, 2010 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  3. FL sucks anyway..too filled with illegals and thugs

    If RICK SCOTT was a CRIMINAL the police would have at least ?? him on the Medicare issue..So stop WHINING and realize a SELF MAD MAN is now going to possibly be in charge..SURE beats ones who live off the GOVT TEAT all their people wanted CHANGE..Well Scott is no more a CROOK than least we know where Scott went to SCHOOL and he is not afraid to SHOW his birth Certificate...

    August 25, 2010 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  4. Peter s

    The medicare, al capone won last night in Florida!!! which makes me ask the question, as a Nation is everything for sale even our moral values? How can you vote for someone who stole from seniors then use the same money on campaign advertisement to convince you to vote for him ?. I once thought only hookers sell their bodies but, I was damn wrong! because every day its becoming apparent that, our bodies and minds are for sale to the highest bidder regardless how dirty or bloody the money is!!

    August 25, 2010 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  5. Proud member of "Gobal Zero"

    Well, I can finally breathe. The primary is over in this state and that in itself is a blessing. I may not watch much TV but it is on in my house. I have not heard such fighting and lying in my life since my children were toddlers. They are in their 20's now, Scott will go down big here. He is a liar, thief, and just plain sleezy.

    Alex Sink will prevail.

    Shalom from Florida

    August 25, 2010 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  6. LacrosseMom(the real one)

    Wow,......... the eating their own problem continues among Republicans!

    In NOvember vote NO for the Party of NO!

    August 25, 2010 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  7. Drew, FL

    Rick Scott is a big-time corporate fraudster and Rubio reminds me of the elitists that ran from Cuba when Castro took power. Crist is looking real good.

    August 25, 2010 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  8. slipthalo

    To all who are happy about Scott winning the primary, how happy are you going to be if he does as he did in the past? He was behind the biggest medicare fraud (just megamillions – but who's counting?) a few years back and then took more of our money when he retired with his ill-earned golden parachute of millions.
    You should only hope the Democrat will win or else little Ricky will have access to the State till.
    The man stole Medicare funds in the past and the Republicans vote for him in the Primary – unbelievable.

    August 25, 2010 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  9. Tim - Wilmington, DE

    The Florida Republican Party shot themselves in the foot by letting this criminal anywhere near a microphone, let alone allow him to get away with the gubernatorial nomination. A solid chance to snag the statehouse in an anti-Democratic year, and they hand it over to a crook. I know the Republican Party is thoroughly incompentant, but good God, can't they at least keep convicted felons away? How's that whole tea-baggy thingy werkin' out fer ya?

    August 25, 2010 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  10. Rogelio

    I am sure Rick Scott will start all over with his mud_slinging against Alex Sink. Also I am sure the voters will see him for what he is.....a crook, a fraud and not good for Florida.

    August 25, 2010 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  11. diridi

    Florida old junkie coots got to be out of their elect this idiot....GOP thugs...with Tea party banner....what a pity....just vote for any doggy dem....nation is going to be fine.....Listen, If you are real American, know, this nation has been messed by GOP thugs...Republican idiots....ok, truth, nothing but truth...

    August 25, 2010 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  12. blr

    McCullem needs to man up and put his big-girl panties on... sign of a sore loser when you don't congratulate the winner in the competition. Looks like FL may have made the right choice.

    August 25, 2010 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
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