Sorry, Charlie, Rick Scott Nailed Down the GOP Base

By: Jeff Henderson | Posted: July 7, 2014 3:55 AM
Rick Scott

Rick Scott (Credit: Colin Hackley)

Considered politically dead for much of last year, Rick Scott has bounced back in the polls and has edged ahead of Charlie Crist in recent surveys. One of the reasons Scott has slipped ahead has been the result of his control over the Republican base, no small thing especially as Crist has run five times for statewide office for the GOP before jumping ship to the Democrats. 

Scott’s grasp on the GOP was on display again in recent days when Bill McCollum fell in line behind the governor. McCollum and Scott clashed in the Republican primary in 2010 and they left lasting wounds in each other. After losing the primary, McCollum sulked in his tent, refusing to back Scott over Alex Sink.

Republicans never quite rallied behind Scott during the first half of his term in office, a reminder that 54 percent of them didn’t vote for him in the primary. Even as late as 2013, Scott was having problems with the GOP. A poll taken by Quinnipiac University in March 2013 showed that 28 percent of Republicans in Florida didn’t think Scott deserved a second term. The same poll found Scott in less-than-ideal shape if he was challenged for the Republican nomination. When matched up against Adam Putnam, Scott took less than a majority of Republicans -- only 47 percent -- while 24 percent said they would back Putnam.

A poll from Dem-aligned PPP released in the same month, also showed Scott getting mediocre marks from Republicans. The PPP poll found only 42 percent of Republicans wanted Scott to carry their banner in 2014 while 43 percent preferred another candidate. Scott garnered less than a majority of Republicans again -- 48 percent -- when matched up against Putnam, who took 24 percent, in the PPP poll. Scott did even worse against Pam Bondi, taking only 46 percent against the attorney general while she took 27 percent. Only against Ted Yoho did a majority of Republicans -- 54 percent -- back Scott.

But Scott has bounced back with Republicans, with 70 percent or more of them backing him. Part of that comes from Crist. Bad enough that Crist left the GOP after it had supported him for years, but he has grown increasingly critical of Republicans and moved left on the issues.

Scott also scores points with Republicans on other fronts. He has gone out of his way this year to trumpet tax cuts he’s backed and his commitment to veterans. That’s bread and butter for most Republicans.

The GOP faithful also can cheer Scott’s constant opposition to Barack Obama. Scott came out of nowhere to lead Conservatives for Patients’ Rights against Obamacare and going after the president has been a constant strategy in the governor’s playbook. Despite his past in the GOP, Crist will have a hard time making inroads with Republicans as Scott reminds them about Crist's support of Obama.

To be sure, conservatives have reasons to grumble about Scott on occasion: not bringing an Arizona-style immigration law to Florida, not performing major cuts to state government and other issues. Despite that, Scott has a better hold on his Republican base now than he ever has and McCollum finally coming around is yet more proof of this. That’s bad news for Charlie Crist who had hoped to reel in some Republican votes despite his recent rash of party switches.

Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this story exclusively for Sunshine State News.

Comments (6)

the trouble of it is
2:17PM JUL 7TH 2014
The trouble of it is when you look at the elitists of the Democrat party and see they are aligned with (??????????) and then you go full circle and look at the elitists of the Republican party and see they are aligned with (??????????) Then, if you have just a little gray matter to spare you will probably figure out that Hillary Clinton was right when she had that "slip of the tongue of the century" when she said "what difference, at this point and time does it make?"

No matter what the politically challenged think they know and believe Jeb Bush is a major string puller with all those old family connections that he tries to deny. Rick Scott - Dallas Tx Bush family oil and hospital lawyer. In 1987 when Jeb's partner Miguel Recarey IMC fled the country in the largest Medicare fraud in history - Jeb summoned family lawyer Rick Scott to move in and pick up the pieces. By 1997 they had schemed the new Columbia/ HCA into the largest Medicare Fraud case in US history.

Again with Jeb's help Rick Scott took $70 million of our stolen Medicare dollars and bought the governor's office.

Mel Sembler has been in the background running his pedophile facilities for decades. He had funneled millions into these Republican's as long as they look the other way, get a few bucks and scan his smorgasbord for the child of their choice every now and again.

This time Rick Scott has already been to the Mel Sembler fund raising sabbatical and Charlie is out in the cold.

It don't matter who you vote for then the scanners scan the votes you can darn well bet Rick Scott will first win this secret primary that is not authorized by the RPOF and then he's win the general election in November 2014 just like Thad Cochran won his mysterious race in Mississippi recently and Obama got 141% of the votes cast in St. Lucie County in November 2012. Those little vote counting scanner just love to elect those little code numbers that are preselected in them.
8:11AM JUL 7TH 2014
Looks like the election is over so no use voting in November. Yea like we believe the media and there B.S.
Tom Bryson
7:23AM JUL 7TH 2014
Yes, Rick Scott has nailed down the Republican base while Charlie Crist watches the Democrats slip away.

I fully understand the importance of winning and the necessity for pragmatism in politics, however as a Democrat I find our current circumstances humiliating. How did we ever get ourselves in such desperate straits that we must rely on a recycled Republican to represent our party for the highest office in the State. Ideology is the mother of politics and the two parties have two very different mothers. What do you say about a man who has abandoned his mother? Charlie's mother is very displeased and very anxious to whip his behind with the willow switch as soon as she gets the chance. Call that Charlie's first problem.

Charlie comes to our party as a homeless unemployed orphan. Democrats of course are all about homeless orphans and especially when the orphan possesses a brand new term as Governor of Florida. The prospect is irresistible. Drop what you're doing our problem is solved. After all Charlie is certainly entitled to his final term, isn't he? Charlie will go back to the Governor's mansion and the evil Rick Scott will be erased from the lexicon of Florida politics forever. We'll turn back the clock and things will be just like they were before Charlie abandoned his incumbency. It is the birth of a myth, a myth skillfully propagated by the Crist campaign. But having the Party leadership choose the nominee isn't something we Democrats do and barring some special magic, the candidate Charlie will need to endure a primary. Call that Charlie's second problem.

Charlie has a lot more money than his primary opponent. Charlie has the majesty of former Governor in his pocket. Charlie knows all the progressive talking points by heart. But if Charlie is to win in November, he needs the support of Democrats. This support will not be bestowed on him from on high and it can't be purchased at Nordstrom. It must be earned. Alex Sink was a candidate with a proven track record as a Democrat. She lost to Rick Scott by 61,000 votes. Charlie will need to rally the Democrats if he is to win. Unfortunately, by ignoring the primary and his opponent, he not only disrespects our hospitality but squanders an opportunity to deal with problem number three.

If Charlie wins the primary as many suggest, November will hold no real choice for voters. Democrats will vote for Charlie because they don't like Rick and Republicans will vote for Rick because they don't like Charlie. This because the Democratic party has traded away its principals and values for a mythological victory in November. The silver lining for Democrats is that every day that Charlie continues his empty campaign, his primary win becomes less certain. Democrats could end up with a real candidate and voters could have a real choice after all.
Wendy Sejour
10:59AM JUL 7TH 2014
Well stated Tom, do I have your permission to post this on my FB page? I've been trying to articulate the same sentiments and this is the most cogent and elegant argument I've seen.
Tom Bryson
11:45AM JUL 7TH 2014
Yes you may. Share it with anyone you wish.
6:49AM JUL 7TH 2014
Yes, Republicans have shown themslves to be supportive of grifters, liars and thieves that take car of narrow special interests while making life overall much, much worse for the majority of folks.
Reick Scott=major grifter, liar and thief.

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