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McCollum likely to vote for Scott, still no endorsement

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Attorney General Bill McCollum said he is likely to vote for GOP governor candidate Rick Scott but still won’t endorse him.

Scott, who had never run for office before, defeated McCollum after a brutal primary in which Scott spent $50 million of his own money, much of it on negative campaign ads targeting McCollum, who spent decades in Congress and as a lobbyist, as a career politician.

McCollum said he has “big differences” with Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, the Democrat gubernatorial candidate, primarily about her opposition to his lawsuit against the federal government over health care reforms.

“I cannot vote for her for governor,” McCollum told reporters after a Cabinet meeting this morning.

Although McCollum has refused to endorse Scott, McCollum said he will “probably” vote in the governor’s race.

“And if I do I’m leaning towards voting for Scott. But I haven’t made that decision formally yet. Haven’t decided. I’m weighing it right now,” he said.

He said he hasn’t decided either whether he will formally endorse his former opponent but that he’s offered to meet with Scott “more than once and no meetings occurred to this point.”

UPDATE: Fraud? Back at ya Sink, Scott says in new ad

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010 by Dara Kam

UPDATE: Alex Sink’s campaign spokeswoman Kyra Jennings calls Scott’s ad a lie.

“This is just one more deceptive ad from Rick Scott. The facts are that this is a company Alex Sink flat-out did not run and even the lawyer from the suit mentioned in Scott’s ad said today that Alex Sink was not involved in any way. But obviously Rick Scott has a very hard time telling the truth and can’t be trusted,” Jennings said in an e-mail.

GOP gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott released a new attack ad today slamming Democrat opponent Alex Sink for $6.75 million in fines her former bank was forced to pay the federal government for selling risky investments, mostly to seniors.

NationsBank and its securities division was also forced to repay $30 million to customers duped into buying the investments. Sink was head of NationsBank’s Florida operations.

Scott’s ad comes after Sink, the state’s chief financial officer, and Democrats have run ads for weeks raising questions about Scott’s role in $1.7 billion fines levied by the federal government against his hospital chain for fraud.

UPDATE: Sink calls Scott deceptive, irresponsible for ‘scaring our retirees’

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010 by Dara Kam

UPDATE: A spokesman for Rick Scott’s campaign responded to Alex Sink’s rant about her GOP opponent Scott’s attack ads, paid for by the Republican Party of Florida.

“As the St Petersburg Times reported, CFO Sink never declared a potential conflict and supported a no-bid contract to her former employer. Instead of looking for a correction from the St Petersburg Times, Sink is trying to draw attention from valid questions over her integrity and competence,” Scott campaign spokesman Joe Kildea said in an e-mail.

As far as her accusation that Scott is scaring pensioners, Kildea wrote: “She is trying to draw attention away from the facts (as reported in the St Pete. Times)”

Chief Financial Officer and Democrat governor hopeful Alex Sink went on a rant in response to questions about her GOP opponent Rick Scott’s attack ads accusing her of benefiting from a no-bid contract that went to her former employer and being responsible for the state pension fund’s $23 billion loss three years ago.

“You know that’s ridiculous,” Sink, a trustee along with Gov. Charlie Crist and Attorney General Bill McCollum of Florida’s State Board of Administration, which handles pension funds for state and municipal workers.

“The whole market almost collapsed. Everybody’s 401K took a dive. And the good news is that independent authorities call the Florida pension fund one of the strongest investment pension funds in the country.
We are one of the strongest public pension funds in the country. He is out there scaring our retirees into thinking that their pensions are at risk. He’s irresponsible and shouldn’t be doing it.”

Sink was even more incensed over an ad accusing her of voting to give former employer Bank of America a no-bid contract when she may have held stock in the company. The Republican Party of Florida paid for both of the television ads.


Dem Sink nails down police endorsements

Thursday, September 9th, 2010 by Dara Kam

The state’s top two law enforcement groups – the Fraternal Order of Police and the Police Benevolent Association – have thrown their support behind Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, the Democrat in the governor’s race.

According to Sink’s campaign, it’s the first time the FOP has endorsed a Democrat for governor in 16 years. Their last pick? The late Gov. Lawton Chiles in his 1994 re-election campaign. Sink’s campaign also says it’s been two decades since both law enforcement organizations a Democrat for governor.

Sink’s duties as the state’s chief financial officer include acting as Florida’s fire marshal.

Paula Dockery drops out of GOP primary for governor

Monday, May 24th, 2010 by Dara Kam

State Sen. Paula Dockery is out of the GOP primary for governor, her campaign announced this morning.

Dockery was a long-shot against Attorney General Bill McCollum, now in a primary battle against Naples multimillionaire Rick Scott.

Dockery said she’s quitting the race because of money.

“It is with mixed feelings that I end my campaign to be your next governor. People who know me know I’m a tenacious fighter unafraid of long odds, especially when the stakes are so high. But I’m also a realist and understand the costs of effectively competing statewide. At this point in the election cycle, I see no financial path to victory. And so today, with both resignation that the resources are not there and appreciation for the journey we shared, I am ending my campaign to be governor of the great state of Florida,” the Lakeland Republican said in a statement.

Scott, a former health-care executive, is expected to spend up to $5 million of his own money on TV ads, and recently launched his second ad before McCollum aired his first.

More Tea Party brew-ha-ha

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010 by Dara Kam

The flame war between GOP operative Michael Caputo and Sen. Paula Dockery (and her campaign for governor) over a Tea Party schism got hotter last night.

Caputo, who’s involved in a federal lawsuit a bunch of Tea Party activists filed against Orlando political gadfly Doug Guetzloe and his brand of Tea Partiers, and Dockery exchanged a rash of e-mails yesterday peppered with questions about their links to Guetzloe in the spirit of “Will the real Tea Party people please stand up?”

Caputo says he is not being paid by Attorney General Bill McCollum, Dockery’s GOP primary opponent in the governor’s race.


Sink campaign hits ‘career politician’ McCollum with TV ad

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010 by Dara Kam

The Florida Democratic Party is running a television ad blasting GOP candidate for governor Bill McCollum.

The TV spot was released the same day the the Republican Governors Association let loose a television campaign slamming Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, the presumptive Democratic nominee for governor.

The FDP ad blames McCollum for costing taxpayers billions of dollars during his two decades in Congress.

The RGA ad roasts Sink for earning millions of dollars as NationsBank’s Florida chief in 1998 while giving pink slips to thousands of bank workers during the financial institution’s buy-out of Barnett Bank.

The Democrats’ ad skewers McCollum for voting for Congressional pay hikes four times, for his $75,000-a-year Congressional pension taxpayers are now footing and for voting five times to increase the national debt that skyrocketed to $4.7 trillion while the Republican was in office.

“Bill McCollum. Just another Washington politician Florida can’t afford,” the 30-second commercial ends.

McCollum’s campaign dismissed the Sink ad in much the same way her campaign responded to the RGA ad earlier today. Both sides accused the other of being “misleading” and “desperate.”

“This is a weak, misleading ad from a candidate and party desperate to salvage a message-less, issue-less campaign that has been roundly derided by even their strongest supporters. Alex Sink needs to stop complaining and start explaining. She eliminated thousands of Florida jobs will taking millions in salary and bonuses. The Republican Governors Association raises serious questions and Alex Sink will have to answer to Florida voters in November,” McCollum campaign Kristy Campbell wrote in a press release.

Dockery Tea Party battle brewing

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010 by Dara Kam

State senator and GOP governor hopeful Paula Dockery blasted Republican operative Michael Caputo for linking her with Orlando politico Doug Guetzloe, the center of a Tea Party turf battle playing out in federal court.

Guetzloe joined forces with Dockery in fighting the SunRail/CSX deal during the special legislative session and has supported her candidacy against Attorney General Bill McCollum in the Republican primary for governor.

Caputo, a Republican operative who has worked on campaigns in and out of the U.S. and who is closely linked with Roger Stone, and a variety of local Tea Party groups filed a lawsuit against Guetzloe and his cohorts accusing them of hijacking the “real” Tea Party and asking the court to order him to stop using the “Tea Party” moniker.

The flame war began when Caputo sent out an e-mail questioning whether Guetzloe is secretly backing Dockery’s campaign and calling the Lakeland Republican a “liberal.”

Dockery responded with an e-mail asking Caputo with some answers plus her own list of questions.

Guetzloe “is not and has not been paid by my campaign or on behalf of my campaign. I am asking you to refrain from making this claim as you have now been formally told there is no truth to your assertion. Please provide your rationale for making these false claims,” she writes.

The exchange also includes a “Who’s the better Republican?” line with Dockery saying she’s a life-long GOP’er who was first elected in 1996.

Caputo one-ups her there: He says he’s been a Republican since he first got into politics in the 1980s when he worked on President Ronald Reagan’s reelection campaign.

Dockery also tries to extricate herself from the Tea Party wars, writing: “I have absolutely nothing to do with the forming of another party and have, in fact, suggested that the formation of a “tea party” will actually harm reform-minded Republican candidates like me.”

Caputo’s snarky response to Dockery also challenges her to distance herself from Guetzloe.

“If you seek Tea Party support for your candidacy, your work with Doug Guetzloe does not endear you to thousands of authentic Florida Tea Party activists who are enflamed by his hijack attempt of their name and cause,” Caputo wrote.

“If what you say is true, it is not enough to stand silently. We ask you to denounce Guetzloe’s Tea Party political party. Please call upon him to disband it immediately and demand he end his personal threats
on true citizen activists in Florida’s Tea Party movement. Our plaintiffs – 34 Tea Party activists and organizations deeply concerned about the damage of Guetzloe’s third party – can help get your message out.”

Read the three messages after the jump.

RGA slams Sink in first TV ad of 2010 campaign season

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010 by Dara Kam

The Republican Governors Association hammered Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, the state’s presumptive Democratic candidate for governor and former banker.

The ad is the RGA’s first TV campaign for the 2010 election season and shows that the Florida governor’s race will be one of the premier gubernatorial battles in the country.

Attorney General Bill McCollum is facing off against long-shot state Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, in a GOP primary.

The ad charges that Sink did away with thousands of jobs while president of Florida’s NationsBank operations while earning $8 million in salary and bonuses, capitalizing on the current animosity toward bankers who took billions of dollars in federal bail-out money, spent much of it on executive bonuses and did little to ease the nation’s credit crunch.

The RGA also launched a new website – – featuring the video, which ends “Alex Sink. Not one of us. One of them.”

Sink was head of NationsBank in Florida when the financial institution acquired Barnett Bank, in 1998, for $62 billion. The merger resulted in the loss of 6,000 jobs, many of them in Florida, according to the ad.

UPDATE: Sink-McCollum smackdown, Part II

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010 by Dara Kam

The gubernatorial campaign fur continues to fly in the battle between Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and Attorney General Bill McCollum, this time over what is a tax “cut” and whether they’re good or bad for businesses.

Sink’s campaign took a swing at McCollum for opposing tax cuts for small businesses to jump-start the economy and create jobs.

In fact, McCollum told reporters yesterday that he didn’t think targeted tax credits or incentives work out so great in the long term.

Here’s what McCollum said after a speech to the National Federation of Independent Business.

“Targeted tax credits, in my experience in Washington, were minimally effective. They can be in the short run but they’re not in the long run very effective,” the former Congressman said.

After the two campaigns traded insults on other matters throughout the day, Sink’s campaign blasted McCollum for being against tax cuts.

“Career politician Bill McCollum says tax cuts don’t work, but he’s just plain wrong- wrong for small businesses, wrong for our economy, and wrong for everyday Floridians. The choice in this election just got a little clearer- a career politician who cites his decades in Congress as a reason to oppose tax cuts versus a businesswoman who knows what it’s going to take to get our economy back on track,” reads a press release issued by Sink’s campaign spokeswoman Conchita Cruz.

Hang on.

McCollum spoke about tax credits or tax incentives. Are they the same as tax cuts?

“He said tax credits and tax credits are tax cuts,” Sink said in an e-mail from Cruz.

This from McCollum’s campaign spokeswoman Kristy Campbell.

“It is laughable that Alex Sink, who has made thousands in personal campaign contributions to liberal tax-and-spend Democrats, would try to assert she is a fiscal conservative. Following more political stunts from her official office at taxpayer expense, Alex Sink has resorted to ridiculous attempts to obfuscate the facts.

“Bill McCollum has a bullet-proof record of fighting to cut taxes across the board for families and businesses that speaks for itself,” Campbell said in a press release.

UPDATE: McCollum’s office: That Sink paper clip idea isn’t so bad

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010 by Dara Kam

After dissing Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink for gloating about skimping on paper clips, Attorney General Bill McCollum appears to have taken a liking to her cost-cutting measure.

Spending less on office supplies and reusing paper clips and file folders could save taxpayers about $238,000 a year, McCollum’s director of administration John Hamilton told the Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Committee this morning.


Just a few weeks ago, McCollum mocked Sink’s efforts to stop buying non-mission critical office supplies until the end of the fiscal year in June, a savings that she estimates could be $200,000. If all the state followed her lead, taxpayers could save $14 million according to the Democratic candidate for governor.

“While Alex Sink focuses on rationing paperclips and paper products, Bill McCollum is focused on finding solutions to the severe economic challenges we face,” McCollum’s campaign said in a press release late last month.

McCollum’s campaign spokeswoman Kristy Campbell had this to say in response to our blog:

“Attorney General McCollum has remained to curbing wasteful spending throughout his tenure in office. Unfortunately, CFO Alex Sink has consistently used her office for political public relations stunts and for attacking her opponent on the taxpayers dime,” Campbell wrote in an e-mail.

And Democratic Party of Florida spokesman Eric Jotkoff had his own snap:

“We’re glad to see that career politician Bill McCollum is finally showing some concern for Florida taxpayers and eating his wrong-headed attacks on Alex Sink, even if it took some coaxing and cajoling, at least the Attorney General is finally following CFO Sink’s leadership in cutting wasteful government spending,” Jotkoff wrote in a press release.

Read the related article by Palm Beach Post columnist Frank Cerabino, Governor’s race
 an all-out battle 
of self-promotion

State GOP chair Greer to McCollum challenger Dockery: Need help? Just ask!

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009 by Dara Kam

Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer offered a helping hand to Sen. Paula Dockery, who’s complained that her party isn’t doing anything to aide her gubernatorial bid.

Dockery announced yesterday she’s challenging Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum in a bid for governor and defying Greer’s wishes to avoid GOP primaries in high-profile (and expensive) races.

Then Dockery lashed out today after the RPOF sent out an e-mail from McCollum’s campaign touting his endorsements from GOP bigwigs.

RPOF spokeswoman Katie Gordon Betta responded with the following e-mail to

“I spoke to the Chairman and he wants to clarify that the RPOF authorizes payment of certain allocable and non -allocable expense for statewide candidates at the request of those candidates. We aren’t ‘spending money’ on the McCollum Campaign – we are paying for certain expenses at the request of the campaign – just like we do for the other primary campaigns.

“Senator Dockery has not spoken to the Chairman or the RPOF regarding these resources. The Chairman congratulates the senator on her decision to seek the Republican nomination. The RPOF is willing to extend every courtesy to the Dockery Campaign, but to this point Senator Dockery’s Campaign has made no contact with the RPOF regarding her candidacy,” Betta wrote.

Dockery’s campaign spokeswoman Rosemary Goudreau came back with a less-than-tepid rejoinder.

“The ‘People for Paula’ campaign welcomes the party’s support and looks forward to having a conversation with the chairman,” Goudreau wrote

Who’s afraid of Paula Dockery?

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009 by Dara Kam

The day after she officially joined the governor’s race, Sen. Paula Dockery lobbed a shot at the state GOP political machine that seems to be doing its best to ignore one of its own.

The front page of the Republican Party of Florida’s website has no mention of Dockery, a lifelong Republican from Lakeland, but does prominently feature a press release from her GOP opponent Attorney General Bill McCollum touting Jeb Bush’s support for him.

After Dockery announced she was running for governor, the Republican Party of Florida issued a release on behalf of McCollum’s campaign highlighting his GOP endorsements.

That earned this jab at RPOF Chairman Jim Greer from Dockery today.

“Just today, the controversial and embattled head of Florida’s Republican Party told the Orlando Sentinel that the state party would spend no money to help my opponent in the gubernatorial primary.

“Hours later, he used the party’s resources to send out an email of support for my opponent, Attorney General Bill McCollum.

“This is exactly the kind of double-speak that, under Greer’s leadership, has disenfranchised grassroots Republicans from the state party.

“Party bosses shouldn’t tell the people what to do. That didn’t work for the Politburo and it won’t work for the Republican Party of Florida,” Dockery said in a press release entitled “What are they afraid of?”

RPOF spokeswoman Katie Gordon said McCollum’s campaign was using a service that’s also available to Dockery.

“The RPOF has a long-standing policy of distributing campaign press releases to our subscribers thru the RPOF blast e-mail system at the request of any of the statewide candidates. At this point, Sen. Dockery has not requested that RPOF resources be utilized to distribute her press releases to our subscribers,” Gordon said.

McCollum shrugs off GOP opponent Dockery

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009 by Dara Kam

BILL MCCOLLUMAttorney General Bill McCollum brushed off Sen. Paula Dockery’s entree into the race for governor, saying he’s focused on the general election.

Dockery will officially join the race this afternoon when she files her papers in Tallahassee, creating a GOP primary race next year.

11431_164115967010_87579457010_2880365_3695648_sThat’s good news for Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, the presumptive Democratic candidate who as yet doesn’t face a serious challenger.

But it’s bad news for McCollum, who has trailed Sink in raising campaign cash for two quarters in a row.

McCollum this morning shrugged off Dockery’s decision.

It was expected, he said.

“I’m not surprised. I respect Paula and she certainly has a right to run,” McCollum said.

“My focus, however, is on Alex Sink. That is the race that we’re already engaged in,” he went on.

McCollum stuck to his position when asked how concerned he is about a GOP primary.

“My focus is on Alex Sink. My focus is on the Democrat opponent,” he said.

Waiting’s over, Dockery’s in governor’s race

Monday, November 2nd, 2009 by Dara Kam

11431_164115967010_87579457010_2880365_3695648_sState Sen. Paula Dockery will enter the race for governor tomorrow, ending months of speculation about whether Attorney General Bill McCollum will face a GOP primary opponent.

Dockery confirmed that she will file papers to enter the race tomorrow.

The Lakeland Republican earned an ardent following in the spring when she led a winning crusade against a proposed Central Florida commuter rail line backed by prominent GOP leaders including Gov. Charlie Crist.

Dockery raised a ruckus about a deal in which the state would have paid transportation behemoth CSX Inc. more than $600 million for 61 miles of track for the SunRail project. Lawmakers ultimately refused to pass it even after a last-ditch effort to link it to the floundering Tri-Rail that was $80 million in the red last year.

Florida’s lagging economy that forced the legislature to trim more than $5 billion from the state budget over two years bolstered Dockery’s opposition to the project.

Dockery also criticized a component of the deal that makes the state liable for any accidents on the rail line even if they are caused by CSX, which would still be allowed to run freight cars on the commuter line.

Perhaps not coincidentally, SunRail supporter McCollum, who hails from the Orlando area, today ordered Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Stephanie Kopelousos to appear before the Cabinet on Nov. 17 to give an update on the liability issue.

“I strongly support legislation to implement a SunRail agreement,” McCollum wrote.

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