Crist, Scott Not Putting Money Where Their Mouths Are in Race Called Nastiest in Florida History

The Florida governor’s race, one of the most expensive  — and definitely the nastiest — in the state’s history, is too close to call.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Democratic challenger Charlie Crist have tapped their parties for almost every vote available. They are going to have to court independents and Libertarians to win.

A Center for Public Integrity study released Sept. 24 showed $31.8 million had been spent on 64,000 television ads run for the Crist and Scott campaigns through Sept. 8.

However, while the two candidates appear in most of those ads, the commercials are not being paid for directly by either campaign. The Center for Public Integrity found the Crist and Scott campaigns are responsible for less than 4 percent of the TV ad spending, the tiniest rate of candidate participation in any governor’s race in the nation.

How is that possible?

A Florida law allows independent political committees to raise unlimited amounts of money. They can also coordinate the use of that money directly with the candidates’ campaigns.

The Center for Public Integrity found PAC-candidate coordination is allowed at a level in Florida that would be illegal in most other states.

As an example, the center pointed to a Rick Scott ad, "Grandpa." Scott and his grandson appear in the ad, but it’s paid for by the Let’s Get to Work political campaign committee.

Crist is using outside money to pay for his ads, too, with a slightly different twist.

The political committee backing Crist gives its money to the Florida Democratic Party, which then coordinates the advertising with the Crist campaign.

The ads run by both campaigns have been nasty.

In the “Guys Like Rick Scott” ad, Crist blames “greedy Wall Street bankers and corporate takeover artists, in other words, guys like Rick Scott,” for causing the 2008 recession, the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression.

The Florida GOP, on the other hand, paid for an ad in April 2014 that accused Crist of “Running Away” from Florida by campaigning for the U.S. Senate while still governor, and still a Republican.

The Republican Party of Florida also attacked Crist for his support of Obamacare in an ad that debuted Sept. 23, “Doctors and Patients.”

The result of all of these TV ads is that close to half of likely Florida voters have decided neither Crist nor Scott is honest or trustworthy. Forty-nine percent turned thumbs down to Crist’s character in a Quinnipiac University Poll released Sept. 24. Fifty-one percent don’t believe Scott is trustworthy or honest.

“When fewer than four in 10 voters think both the Democratic and Republican candidates for governor are honest, you know this has been one of the nastiest races in state history,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. “They have been throwing so much mud that they both are covered in it.”

The Quinnipiac Poll also shows Crist and Scott need to be aiming their advertising at independent and Libertarian voters.