There were no surprises in Florida’s Democratic primary yesterday, but the GOP saw some upsets. What was the Big Picture? Well, there are two basic rules of Florida politics: (1) it’s all local; and, (2) sometimes it’s crazy. (More)
On the Democratic side the results were as expected. Alex Sink is the Democratic candidate for governor, and Kendrick Meek will carry the party banner in the U.S. Senate race. The same pattern held for most of the down-ticket races, and despite vigorous primary battles it looks as if Democrats will vote for Democrats this year. The exception may be independent Charlie Crist, who currently leads the polling over both Meek and Tea Party Republican Marco Rubio.
The Republican primaries were more … surprising. Tea Party insurgent Rubio has had the TGOP nomination sewn up since Crist left the party to run as an independent. But few expected Tea Partier Rick Scott to defeat veteran Bill McCollum in the governor’s race. Still, yesterday was not a sweep for the Tea Party.
For example, in Florida’s 5th Congressional District, Hernando County sheriff Richard Nugent – hand-picked successor to retiring Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite – easily defeated Tea Party challenger Jason Sager. Nugent will run against Democrat (and BPI featured candidate) Jim Piccillo, who was unopposed in the primary.
So what does it all mean? It’s hard to say. This year’s TGOP primaries featured battles between the Corrupt and the Crazy, and sometimes some of both. McCollum was tagged with the corruption endemic in the Florida Republican Party, which may have helped Scott. But health care giant Columbia/HCA was fined $1.7 billion for 14 counts of fraud under Scott’s leadership. Scott campaigned on a promise to replicate Arizona’s draconian immigration law, which will likely be ruled unconstitutional, and to nullify the 2010 health care bill.
Their brutal primary campaign may have helped Sink, who held a 24-point lead on Scott in a recent Miami Herald poll. In that poll, only 42% of registered Republicans said they would support Scott if he won the party nomination. But that poll also showed McCollum leading the primary race, and he lost.
Ultimately the 2010 races, like all elections, will hinge on voter turnout. If Florida Democrats mobilize our voters, Florida could look bluer come November, and the radical right agenda could be blocked. But if Florida Democrats stay home, it could get un poco loco … and Floridians may need a birth certificate if they say that.