Scott narrowly wins Florida GOP gov. race, but party feud could help Dems

Holly Bailey

If there's a lesson in Florida tonight, it's that $26 million can't buy an election, but $50 million can. That's how much Rick Scott spent in his bid to win the state's GOP gubernatorial primary. (The smaller sum was what billionaire Democratic Senate aspirant Jeff Greene spent in his failed nomination bid.) The former hospital executive narrowly defeated state Attorney General Bill McCollum in what was one of the most contentious primaries in the country. The Associated Press called the race for Scott late Tuesday, with more than 90 percent of the state's districts reporting.

McCollum, a former congressman, was backed by most of the GOP establishment, including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. But Scott, who campaigned as a political outsider, narrowly led in the polls up until this week, when McCollum seemed to make a last-minute resurgence. The race was so nasty that neither Scott or McCollum would commit to endorsing the other in the general election, forcing the Florida GOP to postpone a so-called unity rally scheduled for Wednesday.

The GOP turmoil could be good news for Democrats. Alex Sink, the state's chief financial officer, easily won the party's nomination Tuesday, and polls show she's gained a slight lead in the general election as Scott and McCollum have attacked each other. That represents a notable gain since a recent Quinnipiac poll found she's a virtual unknown in the state.

Last week, Sink launched her first statewide TV ad in the race, playing off the GOP fight. In the ad, Sink talks to the camera about her campaign as two actors who look remarkably like Scott and McCollum yell at each other in the background. "Don't know about you, but I've had enough of politicians attacking each other," she tells the camera. "I'm ready to attack Florida's challenges."

(Photo of Scott by Erik Kellar/AP)