Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Now that I've met him, here's some more thoughts on Rick Scott

Kudos to the Orange County Republican Executive Committee yesterday on a great Republican Unity Rally yesterday.  It was great to see so many local elected officials, candidates, party activists, volunteers, and supporters.  The room was packed, standing room only.  After talking with my friends who set out the chairs we estimated the crowd at 275-300 people.  

It was great to see incoming Speaker of the House Dean Cannon and Senate President Mike Haridopolos speak so eloquently about party unity and their sincere and honest acknowledgment of Rick Scott's primary victory.

Here's part of Haridopolos' statement to Fox 35 News last night:
[Rick Scott] has done a really good job of focusing on what's most important - creating jobs and opportunities in this state.  He's got a track record of creating jobs, high quality jobs, and that's what we're focused on.

...[T[he Republican Party is unified - Jeb Bush, myself, Dean Cannon, we've all rallied behind Rick Scott.  The voters have spoken, they want Rick Scott to be the Republican nominee, [and] I strongly support him.

...Jeb Bush, the incoming Speaker, the incoming [Florida Senate] President, the party chairman John Thrasher, we're all rallying behind Rick Scott because the voters matter, they're the ones who are the ultimate endorsement.
Well said, Senator.  I strongly believe that one of the major challenges facing RPOF (as well as the Republican Party nationally) stems from a failure to remember that the voters are the ones who matter.  Jim Greer is now 0 for 3 in getting his chosen statewide candidates across the finish line, as his attempts to clear the fields for Bill McCollum, Jeff Kottkamp, and most spectacularly Charlie Crist, have all fallen short.  

As for Scott himself, he gave a warm and heartfelt talk thanking everyone for their support, and pledging dedication to the conservative ideals that Republicans all share.  This was the first time I saw him speak in person, and I'm not easily impressed by politicians,  can smell a canned speech from a million miles away, but it was a solid speech.  He received a lot of applause and even several standing ovations.  

Keep in mind that Orange County is McCollum's home turf.  There were a lot of people in the room that were not just McCollum supporters, but personal friends with Bill and Ingrid.  Scott was respectful of the situation and gracious in his victory.  I believe Scott's positive speech last night went a long way towards speeding up the healing process and unifying the party.

Here's a photo from Scott's speech, with former Governor Martinez, Haridopolos, Cannon, Daniel Webster, and Sandy Adams behind him, and his wife Ann by his side:

After the speech, I had the opportunity to meet Scott, as well as his charming wife Ann.  In person, Scott is warm and genuine, gave me a solid handshake, looked me in the eye, asked my name and thanked me for my support.  Also, in real life he looks a lot less like Voldemort. ;)  Seriously, though, he really does seem to have a natural and charming friendliness about him and a sincere belief in conservative issues.

I think the Democrats are vastly underestimating Rick Scott.  I can't think of anything new Alex Sink can throw at him that McCollum and his backers didn't already try.  It will be very hard to get the voters' attention with the same old message that they didn't seem to buy during the primary.

As I said a few days ago, I'm in the process of reading through Scott's platform and I really like what I'm seeing.  There's a common-sense practicality to his approach to issues that I find refreshing.  You can read for yourself on the "Issues" section of his website.

I must admit too that I really like the idea of an elected official that doesn't owe a darn thing to any of the typical power brokers, isn't held hostage by the media, isn't in debt to the party structure, and is absolutely independent of the lobbyists and special interests.  

Mike Thomas of the Orlando Sentinel summed up Rick Scott's independence well in his commentary in Sunday's paper, noting that "Scott's appeal is based on his separation from the corrupt, rusting machinery of political parties and special-interest groups:"
For those of us in the media, the worrisome thing about Scott...is that he has completely dissed us at a time when we are feeling very insecure about our role as major players.

He treats us like
Tiger Woods treats golf reporters.

He doesn't answer our questions or take our advice.

He doesn't pay homage to our editorial boards.

He just blows us off and buys another round of ads.

And it's working. Thirty seconds on "Dancing with the Stars" trumps 30 pages of media rants.

Meanwhile, the guy who played by our rules,
Bill McCollum, lost.

Every major newspaper endorsed McCollum, and he lost.

That raises a very disturbing question. What if the other politicians see this and think, "Hey, maybe he's on to something.''

By no means are we the only Lilliputians exposed by Scott.

He treats
Republican Party bosses with equal disdain because they are Exhibit A in his crusade against career politicians. They threw every dime and every endorsement at their favorite career politician. And he lost.

Even worse,
Jeb Bush campaigned for McCollum. And he lost. Losing a Republican primary with Jeb's endorsement is like being rejected at the pearly gates when you arrive arm in arm with St. Peter.

The Republican special interests turned their backs on Scott — the social conservatives, the business interests, even Big Sugar.

...The fear of a renegade candidate is eclipsed only by the fear of a renegade governor.
The next few months will show whether Rick Scott really deserves the "renegade'" moniker (I must admit I am having reluctant flashbacks to the overuse of "maverick" during McCain's train wreck of a campaign in 2008) but I've got a pretty good feeling about his chances for success in November.  

One thing is certain: politics in the Sunshine State is guaranteed to continue to be interesting for quite a while...

UPDATE: Frank Torres, once again, took great pictures at last night's event...and his commentary is not to be missed.  Check out his blog here.


  1. As a result of litigation, all gubernatorial candidates will be included in the Sept. 20-24 Mason Dixon poll. If Michael E. Arth polls 11% or more, as expected, then he'll be in the statewide televised debates and we'll get a chance to compare the top three candidates side by side. Bud Chiles is expected to drop out today, which will make it essentially a three-way race with Arth against the duopoly. See for yourself at michaelearth dot org.

  2. Classic! Long Live The King! You are such Phony!

  3. Arth has some interesting ideas about development, not sure how feasible his type of projects are in a down economy, but I would be shocked, shocked, shocked if he crosses that threshold in the Mason Dixon poll.

    As for Anonymous commenter #2, seriously, who are you talking about? It cracks me up how the people with the negative comments always seem to have so much trouble with the English language.


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