Bill McCollum Endorses Old Rival Rick Scott
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Former Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum announced that he was endorsing Scott for a second term. McCollum had been a heavy favorite for the Republican gubernatorial nomination at the start of the 2010 election cycle but that changed when Scott entered the contest. Scott slammed his rival, who served two decades in Congress, as a career politician while McCollum went after his foe’s record in the private sector.
Scott won the primary taking 46 percent, while McCollum took 44 percent. After the primary, McCollum refused to endorse Scott against then-CFO Alex Sink, the Democratic nominee. The defeat marked the third time McCollum sought higher office but fell short. In 2000, he was the Republican nominee in the open U.S. Senate race but lost to Democrat Bill Nelson. Trying to bounce back in another open Senate race, McCollum lost to Mel Martinez in the Republican primary.
Turning 70 later this month, McCollum has remained somewhat active in politics since his loss. In 2012, he was one of the chief Florida backers of his old colleague's presidential bid -- former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga.
On Tuesday, McCollum noted he and Scott had clashed four years before but did offer kind words for his old rival’s time in Tallahassee.
“In 2010, Gov. Scott and I competed in a very close and hard fought primary,” McCollum said, before praising his former rival’s record. “Over the last four years, Gov. Scott has done a great job for Florida families and served our state very well. His record on helping Floridians create jobs and supporting education has helped families throughout our state, and I am proud to endorse him for re-election today.”
McCollum then turned his fire on former Gov. Charlie Crist who he served with in the Florida Cabinet. Crist, despite having won three statewide offices as a Republican, is the favorite for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
"As someone who served on the Florida Cabinet with then-Gov. Charlie Crist and had a good working relationship, I find many of his views and positions today vastly different,” McCollum said. “Gov. Crist always was proud to be known as ‘Mr. Open Government.’ I find his recent refusal to release his and his spouse's tax returns very surprising and disappointing. Government in the sunshine has been the law, and transparency has been a bedrock principle of Florida government and Florida politics for many years. In making their decision in the governor's race this fall, Florida voters deserve to know the sources of income of the candidates and their spouses, and they deserve a governor committed to sunshine and transparency."
The Florida Democratic Party fired back with a reminder about the barbs exchanged between the two Republicans in 2010, showcasing a video in which Scott compared McCollum to disgraced skater Tonya Harding.
“Today, the ‘Tonya Harding of Florida politics’ Bill McCollum endorsed the man he wanted everyone to know had a connection to Playboy Mexico, Rick Scott," the Florida Democratic Party noted on Tuesday. “Perhaps nothing sums up the viciously personal primary better than Rick Scott’s Aug. 11th, 2010, press conference where he said, ‘Bill McCollum, I am clearly questioning your integrity today. ... You should be embarrassed. Your actions are shameful.’ It’s amazing that after just four years Rick Scott now welcomes the endorsement of a ‘creature of government who has spent his entire life feeding at the public trough either as a politician or a lobbyist.’”
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.