by Javier Manjarres
One of the major unresolved issues in this gubernatorial campaign that many people across the state continue to speculate about is the extent of Attorney General Bill McCollum’s relationship with former RPOF Chair Jim Greer, and what, if any, was the exact involvement or knowledge that McCollum had about Jim Greer’s possible criminal activities. Much like Rick Scott’s HCA/fraud issue, these are the two major questions surrounding their candidacies that Republicans are still wrestling with.
Greer has long been a supporter of McCollum, and it was Greer who cleared the field for McCollum to be the Party’s approved Gubernatorial candidate. McCollum is on the record stating that he did not find anything wrong with Mr. Greer’s dealings- this before the Feds became interested in Greer’s dealings and found a slew of alleged wrongdoing by the now disgraced ex-chairman. Greer has been charged with several counts of corruption and is struggling to pay his legal fees. It’s gotten so bad for Greer that he even asked his former BFF Charlie Crist to return the donations that he and his wife gave to the Crist’s campaign for Senate. Maybe Greer will start a trend here, and Charlie will start doing right by returning all of the donations that came from unsuspecting Republicans who gave to his Senate campaign, but I wouldn’t hold your breath.
McCollum and his supporters have asserted that either Scott knew about or instigated the fraud at Columbia/HCA, or if he didn’t, he was inept and should have known about what was going on below him as CEO of the corporation. And while that issue is still a matter for the public to decide, the same question can be asked of McCollum regarding the ‘Greergate’ fiasco. As Attorney General, McCollum said he conducted a thorough investigation and found nothing wrong with the corrupt Victory Strategies company headed by Jim Greer. (quote) McCollum either knew about the corruption and condoned it, or as AG of the state of Florida, he failed at doing his job by not reaching the same results that the federal government found pursuant to their investigation.
Rick Scott is catching alot of heat for the following ad he is running that links Jim Greer and Bill McCollum. The ad seems above board-nothing out of the ordinary from what both campaigns have been slinging.
Recent polls have had both candidates in front by as many as 12 points or so. However, the most recent poll by the Florida Chamber of Commerce that has McCollum leading by 12 points may be an outlier because the Chamber has already endorsed McCollum, and the company that conducted the poll, McLauglin & Associates is linked the McCollum campaign. McLauglin & Associates also conducted McCollum’s latest internal poll that was released a couple of weeks ago.
Last week’s Mason-Dixon Poll had McCollum up by 4, but the St. Petersburg Times poll had Scott up by 10 points. These polls will continue to be in flux as samplings of these polls continue to vary from questions asked.
Both candidates have caught flak about the way they have finance their campaigns. Rick Scott is being accused of trying to buy the Governor’s mansion because he has spent millions of his own dollars, while McCollum is accused of being the typical establishment politician for receiving money from the state Republican party and from special interested groups, such as U.S. Sugar who is involved in the controversial bailout of the company by the state. U.S. Sugar has donated $680,000 to the McCollum for Governor campaign. Read more here: Sugar Me Sweet- Is Bill McCollum Now Big Sugar’s Candidate?
Having attended several gun shows over the past several weeks, the sentiment at these gun shows seems to be in favor of Scott. Gun show aficionados tend to be very politically involved and are anti-establishment, be they GOPers or Democrats. The NRA has graded Scott with an ‘A’ and McCollum with a ‘B’.
The bottom line for Republicans as they head to the polls is which issue will they decide creates the greatest liability for the Republican Party’s eventual nominee- will it be Scott’s alleged fraud/HCA issue, or will it be the McCollum’s lack of oversight and judgment despite his close proximity to Jim Greer and Victory Strategies?