Florida’s Primary Surprises

September 3, 2010 Opinion

Every election season a few months before the General election, voters go to the polls and vote in the primaries. On Aug. 24, Floridians went to the polls and cast their votes to select the nominees for their respective parties. The results were of particular interest; though political pundits guessed many of the outcomes correctly, several races turned out differently than expected.

Perhaps the most contentious race was that of Republican Primary for Governor. Yes, that was the race that featured Rick Scott running close to $50 million in television ads. Many expected Bill McCollum to win this race, for McCollum was the party insider, had the Tallahassee connections, was supported by almost all of the lobbyists, and had experience as an elected official. However, the voters determined that Scott would be running as Republican for Governor.

The question now becomes whether or not the Republican establishment can support Scott. Both Mike Haridopolos (Senate President-designee) and Dean Cannon (House Speaker designee) supported McCollum. Many leaders of the RPOF also supported McCollum. However, now these Republicans must unite to support Scott or else Alex Sink will become Florida’s first female governor.

There are a variety of explanations as to why Scott won over McCollum. Interestingly, McCollum had been polling ahead of Scott just before the primary. It is possible, however, that merely the amount of television ads run by Scott won him the primary. This enormous amount of media expenditures is not normally seen in such a race. It is not the television ads, though, that won Scott the election. The ads certainly helped, but ultimately it was Scott’s status as an outsider that helped him push past the finish line. Scott marketed himself as an outsider representing the people, while McCollum appeared to be the Tallahassee insider.

The Democratic Senate race was not surprising to all aware of Florida politics; Jeff Greene had far too many potential scandals to win. While it is still unclear if Greene was actually involved in these scandals, in politics even potentially being tied to a scandal sinks a person’s political future. Kendrick Meek won this primary without any difficulty.

This, in turn, means that in November a three-way Senate race with Marco Rubio representing the Republicans, Kendrick Meek representing the Democrats, and Charlie Crist as an independent.

Looking at this crowd, the choice is clear: Crist. Governor Crist is a distinguished public servant who will represent Florida well in the Senate. Crist has crossed party lines before and seems willing to do so again when it is in the best interest of the people.

Many people feel the primaries are not an important election in which to vote; however, this is not the case. The primaries are an opportunity for the people to decide who represents the party. By not voting in the primary, voters limit their ability to choose elected officials. Primary elections may not always be the most exciting elections of the year, but they are incredibly important and should not be ignored.

About Travis Clinger

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