PJ Media

Can Visiting Political Bigwigs Tip Most Expensive Governor's Race in the Nation?

The Gov. Rick Scott (R) re-election campaign was close to spending $61.3 million by the last week of October and the Charlie Crist (D-Fla.) campaign had spent more than $29.7 million, making the Florida gubernatorial campaign the most expensive in the nation.

Scott was also expected to spend his own money for advertising in the last days of the campaign, the Palm Beach Post reported. That should come as no surprise. He spent $73 million of his fortune on the 2010 campaign.

The threat of even more campaign spending on behalf of the Scott campaign was the theme of a fundraising email sent out in the name of Jessica Clark, the deputy campaign manager of the Crist campaign.

The subject line of the email: Kiss All Hope Goodbye.

“This race is tied. We’re being outspent to the tune of almost 3 to 1. The stakes could not be greater, for the future of Florida and of American politics writ large. If we win this race, it will because we do it on the margins,” Clark said in a statement that was part of the fundraising email.

“Whatever way it goes, the margin of victory could be as close as a few thousand votes — so $1 donations that let us do even a little bit more can truly matter.”

The urgency of both campaigns was ringing even louder than normal for both campaigns as early voting began in Florida.

In addition to the decibel level of broadcast and Internet advertising in Florida, the Clintons (Bill and Hillary) and Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) campaigned for Crist and Scott, respectively.

Scott released his “Florida 2020 Plan” during a “get out the early vote” campaign stop with Christie on Oct. 26. The plan included $30 million for a new workforce training initiative, an increase in per pupil K-12 spending to the highest level in Florida’s history, and a $1 billion tax cut.

“I get to travel the state every day and talk to people all over Florida about what they want – they want to move our state forward,” said Scott.

“The Florida 2020 plan is just that – a clear vision to move Florida forward, to continue building our state to be the best place in the country to find a great job, start a family, and give our kids a world-class education.”

During a campaign stop in Plantation, Fla., Christie urged Florida voters to give Charlie Crist — who is a former governor of Florida along with being a former Florida education commissioner and a former Florida attorney general — a new title.

“There are two kinds of folks who run for political office,” said Christie. “There are the kind who run for office to do something, and there are the kind who run to be something. This race is the best example of that contrast.”

“Rick Scott ran for office because he wanted to do something to help the families in Florida that were suffering. Meanwhile, Charlie Crist ran for office to get another title. Let’s give him that title in November, ‘loser,’” Christie said.

The Naples Daily News endorsed Scott on Oct. 26. The paper criticized Crist for deserting his post when he decided not to run for re-election as governor in 2010.

“Crist could have fought to rescue Florida from a recession lingering not only from the housing bust, but the tourism aftershocks of the BP oil spill. If Crist were up to the challenge of governor, he should have stayed and directed Florida into an era of economic prosperity. He didn’t. He walked away. We find that disappointing and enlightening.”

The Naples Daily News also wrote in its endorsement that Scott had taken on the challenges Crist left behind when the former governor decided to run for U.S. Senate in 2010.

“He’s (Gov. Rick Scott) invested hundreds of millions of dollars into overhauling Florida’s ports to bolster global trade; deployed public-private international trade missions to promote business expansion in the state; slashed regulations on small businesses; met face-to-face with CEOs; helped recruit corporations like Hertz to Florida, and cut dozens of taxes. Most notably, he worked with the Legislature to eliminate the manufacturing and equipment sales tax, saving some 18,000 manufacturing companies in the state about $141 million annually. That may encourage those companies to reinvest in jobs and could attract new manufacturers to the state.”

Bill Clinton couldn’t have disagreed more when he campaigned for Crist during a rally in Tampa the day the paper’s endorsement hit the front porches of voters’ homes.

Clinton told the crowd he wanted to thank Charlie Crist for even running for governor and inviting “Rick Scott to do what he does” with negative advertising.

“It tickles me, since the other party was in power in Washington, to hear (Gov. Rick Scott) try to blame Gov. Crist for something that happened in Florida that he didn’t have a lick to do with,” Clinton told his audience in Tampa, referring to the economic problems Florida suffered when Crist was governor.

Clinton also said he felt so strongly about the Florida governor’s race that he asked for “an excused absence” from Hillary’s birthday celebration so that he could speak in Tampa.

Crist espoused support for the liberal Democrat platform of pay equity for women, raising the minimum wage, and expanding Medicaid, as he introduced Clinton.

“If you want a governor who wants your back, you need to vote,” said Crist. “And you need to vote early. When we vote, we win.”

Polls have consistently shown the race is too close to call and the CBS/New York Times/YouGov poll that came out Oct. 27 was no different. It showed Scott leading Crist by a point, 46 percent to 45 percent.

The Quinnipiac University and Rasmussen Reports surveys showed the Scott-Crist race as a tie earlier in October. The Real Clear Politics average had Crist in the lead by 0.5 points Oct. 27 and called the race a “toss-up.”

(For complete 2014 midterm coverage, get your campaign fix on The Grid.)