Florida Gubernatorial Race 2010 Analysis
The midterm elections in the year 2006 brought about many changes in the House as well as the Senate thereby forcing the media to transfer their attention to the post-election coverage of these races. Aside from the nationwide elections, the results of the gubernatorial elections are equality important elements in determining the political stance of the entire country and as such they deserve to have the same attention. Republican Charlie Crist won over Jim Davis four years ago and this victory surprised many people because many republicans lost during the midyear race. Traditionally speaking, Florida have always leaned towards republicans as evidenced by the 2000 and the 2006 elections but it is shown to be a battleground for tight races where Democrats like Jim Davis have a chance. As of today, Republican Bill McCollum is leading the gubernatorial race followed closely by Democrat Alex Sinks. McCollum may be ahead by a few percent as of the moment but history already showed that in a tight race like this one, nobody knows what to expect.
Florida’s gubernatorial election will take place on November 2, 2010. Current Governor Charlie Crist will be running for Senator despite his eligibility for a second term and as such, the position is up for grabs. Sunshine State’s gubernatorial race is growing more competitive as the election becomes near. Because of Crist’s senate seat pursuit, the gubernatorial position is being sought after by 20 candidates (Bowlin, 1). Statistics show that Attorney General Bill McCollum is now attracting the support of approximately 45% voters while Democrat Alex Sinks is close behind by 38%. McCollum’s numbers went down by 2% as compared to her 47% last month but his numbers have been consistent since October because the past surveys show that his states wide supporters range from 44-48% and while the supporters for Sink range from 35-39% in the same time period. In terms of job approval, 51% of the voters are satisfied with McCollum’s job as an Attorney General and he likewise has a favorability rating of 38% while Sink ha s a job approval rating of 39% as Florida’s Chief Financial Officer and her favorability rating is 22% (“New Polls”). Even though numbers are not completely reliable, they suggest that there are no substantial movement since the start of the campaign period. McCollum may have been in a consistent lead but there are no guarantees until the casting of the ballots on election day (“Election 2010: Florida Governor”).
Bill McCollum was chosen by the Republican party to run for the gubernatorial position not only because of his ability but also because of his many accomplishments that benefited the state of Florida. He was born and raised in Brooksville where he graduated high school and earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida in 1965. His professional life started to blossom when he started practicing as a lawyer from 1973-1980. He began his career in public service by being a Commander in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG)from 1969-1972 (“McCollum for Governor”). With the spirit of true leadership, McCollum has assumed several functions in the different offices in Florida. He has served as a representative in the United States House of Representatives on 1981-2001 and when he retired, he served as a partner in Baker & Hostetler LLP (Limited Liability Partnership) for six years starting 2001-2007. He was also the chairman of the Healthy Florida Foundation, from 2002 to present and has been an active member of the American Bar Association, American Legion, American Security Council, Florida Bar Association, Florida Blue Key, James Madison Institute, Orange County Bar Association, and Reserve Officers Association and Attorney General of the State of Florida from 2007 up to present. (“Project Vote Smart”).
Bill McCollum was elected as the 36th Attorney General of Florida in 2006. Among his projects as a national leader include the fight against child pornography and internet child predators. Because of his dedication and hard work, the Florida Legislature provided the resources to greatly expand the Attorney General’s Child Predator CyberCrime Unit (CPCU) and passed laws giving law enforcement new tools and greater punishments for those who prey on children over the internet (“McCollum for Governor”).
Under the administration of McCollum, the Attorney General’s office has pursued mortgage fraud and many other scams to protect Floridians from economic stress and developed the implementation of a statewide gang reduction strategy. McCollum represented the people of Central Florida in the United States Congress from, 1981 to 2001. He founded the U.S. House Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare which was recognized as an expert on terrorism during 1989. Bill also served as chair of the subcommittee on Crime on the Judiciary committee. He likewise served on the Banking and the Intelligence committees (McCollum for Governor, 1).
On tax day, Bill McCollum announced his recommendation about economic and job creation agenda for the state. His platform is entitled Real Solutions. New Jobs: A Roadmap for Florida’s Future. If these initiatives will be implemented, more than 500,000 jobs will be created in a span of six years. According to Bill, there are more than one million unemployed Floridians and his utmost priority is to put everybody back to work. Cutting taxes and lowering the business cost in Florida will attract job creation (Campbell, 1).
Representative of the Democrats Alex Sinks is Bill McCollum’s greatest rival in Florida’s 2010 gubernatorial race and like him, she also has a lot of ideas and potentials that would make the sunshine state prosperous. Adelaide “Alex” Sinks was born and raised in Mount Airy, North Carolina. She earned her degree in mathematics and graduated from Wake Forest University after which she taught in West Africa for three years. She is married to fellow politician Bill McBride and they have a son named Bert and a daughter named Lexi (“Alex Sink for Governor”).
Alex Sink is a woman whose priorities and values, leadership styles and perspectives were shaped by the decades of real experiences as a business leader (“Alex Sink for Governor”). She has been employed as Florida’s State Fire Marshall and Chief Financial Officer from 2006 up to the present. Motivated by her passion to serve and lead the people, she has assumed different essential posts to different organizations. She has served as Chair of the Board of the United Way of Hills borough County and she is also a member of the Beth El Farm Workers Ministry, Junior Achievement of West Central Florida, Nature Conservancy (Florida Chapter), and Redlands Christian Migrant Association (“Alex Sinks FL”).
Sink is believed to be a great future governor of Florida since she has already succeeded her 26-year career in business. Because of the problems that she has observed in the state government in which there is a system filled with career politicians and entrenched special and personal interests, she decided to run as a governor so that she can make a difference in her own state. In the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Sink offered the people of Florida something new and different which states “unmatched business experience and forward-looking plans” (“Alex Sink for Governor”). Alex Sinks wants to change the conventional problems of the Floridians due to the traditional politicians who are always doing first their personal interests and concerns. As a commitment to accountability, Sink manages approximately 2,000 employees and an annual budget of $200 million in the Department of Financial Services as an elected CFO of the state wherein she is applying her business experience and know-how to work as the determined fiscal and consumer watchdog for the people of Florida (“Alex Sink for Governor”). As a seasoned leader in Florida’s business community for more than 25 years, Sink is planning to get Florida’s economy moving again now by creating long-term economic prosperity for the people of Florida.
The reputation, qualifications, probity and character of the two leading contenders make it hard for the voters to make up their minds. A wide-open race is very rare for the United States Senate in Florida and this was suppose to create a very competitive election. Charlie Crist run for the Senate flow the gubernatorial race wide open for other candidates. A lot of Republicans will be taking advantage of this opportunity because they may fear that another chance like this may not come again and this definitely applies for the cabinet members who are recognized statewide than the other regional candidates. Like the Republicans, the democrats also see their best potential in years by making Alex Sinks run against the divided GOP field. Even thought she has been in the office for only three years, she is one of the only two Democrats to win a statewide office, the other one being U.S. Senator Nelson. Sink has approximately $1 million campaign money and she is fairly doing well in the polls. Her background in banking and her southern drawl make her appealing to the groups that the Democrats have trouble reaching out to over the years and that is the business and the rural community. According to State Republican Keith Fitzgerald, the business groups are not afraid of Sink because they view her as one of they. Even though there is a possibility that they may cast their vote for a Republican, there is still a chance that they may choose a liberal Democrat in the end. His prominence, experience and support among the social conservatives make Bill McCollum the leading candidate in the gubernatorial race (Wallace 1-4).
According to the Mason-Dixon Polling and Research Survey, the tight race is not as tight as it seems. Republican Bill McCollum’ status strengthened as against Alex Sinks when he sued the federal government because of health care reforms. The lawsuit filed by McCollum may have put him in a strong position to beat Alex Sinks and his co-republican challenger Senator Dockery (Caputo, 1).
McCollum may have a well-recognized name and a popular party behind him like Sink but he has already lost several statewide elections while Alex Sink is one of the Democrat’s top recruit. She has a wide geographic base for a Democrat. Republicans have been in control of the gubernatorial elections in Florida for more than a decade but this fact does not assure McCollum of victory because everybody knows that the sunshine state is closely-divided and there is a possibility that the pendulum effect may lean towards the Democrat. As such, the victory for Sink may still be possible (Klas and Bousquet, 1-4).
In politics, it is a normal practice for opponents to magnify their strengths and their opponents weakness. Democrat Alex Sinks was branded by the Republicans as a former banker but by raising the issue about corporate greed as well as the government bailouts, they are in fact walking on a dangerous line because their own candidate Attorney General McCollum spent two decades in congress and all of them on the oversees banking committee. After he left the House, he became a lobbyist and his very first client was the Mortgage Banking Association. It is obvious that the next race for the gubernatorial position will be overshadowed by an economy that is fractured as well as the crippled housing market of Florida so the main question that voters are more likely to be concerned of is whether or not either McCollum or Sink had a part in the promotion or prevention of the present crisis. Due to his experience, Sink is labeled as a banker and McCollum has acquired some experience in that line of work because he worked as a representative of the bankers for quite a long time. Taking a look at these candidates from this perspective, some analysts have concluded that the two of them have not yet done anything that can be of great help or benefit from the consumers. McCollum’s involvement with the banking industry began after he was elected in Congress, after he took part in the Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs Committee. After which, the subprime lending industry started and several legislations in the early 1980’s supported by McCollum loosened some policies related to mortgages in order for banks to sell exotic versions like interest-only and adjustable rate loans. Prior to his arrival in Congress, they permitted the banking institutions to charge higher interest rates but more than ten years later, McCollum was pushing his own bank legislation which includes a bill geared towards curbing the speedy increase of personal bankruptcy filings. McCollum gathers thousands in his campaign donations from different financial institutions over the years. In 1998, one of his top contributors was the Bank of America who gave $18,000. In 1999, McCollum was responsible for co-sponsoring the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act which allowed the holding companies of commercial banks to have their own investment firms. This law and the subsequent onces changed the rule of investment in order to allow banks to undertake more dangerous investments related to mortgages. Looking back on Bill McCollum’s political career, he said time and time again that he aims to expand the banking options and when it comes to bankruptcy bill, he wants to limit abuses that affects consumers who are paying higher fees (Leary and Klas 1).
As difficult as it was to examine and trace the records of McCollum’s congressional career, Sink’s records are harder to take a look at because she was not a policy maker and she earned her career working in private institutions. Little by little, she rose through the ranks of the banking world which is male-dominated. She became the head of the Nations Bank’s Operations in Florida in 1993 and one of the greatest challenges that she encountered in her career was when the Nations Bank purchased the Barnett Bank in August of 1997. The merger of these two banks led to the unemployment of more than 6,000 employees and when the Nations Bank transferred to the Barnett’s computer systems, most of the employees had a hard time struggling with the software. Telephone lines were jammed for many days and the customers waited in very long lines. As a result, Sink and the other executives had to apologize for all the trouble. According to her, the decision to merge Nations and Barnett was made by the Nations’ top executives and like the other employees, she only had short notice. By September of 1998, the merged bank named Bank of America acquired also the subsidiaries of Barnett, the EquiCredit. This company was known for making very high interest loans to their lower income borrowers. A lawyer at legal aid said that most of their victims are the elderly and the women and according to him, he was not aware is Sink unfamiliar with her role in the bank because any person involved with these loans should have known what was going on. When asked about this issue, Sink said that she does not have anything to do with EquiCredit because it was run by a separate management (Leary and Klas, 1).
These news about the candidates make the public even more worried about getting through the elections but all the candidates are confident that their voters are intelligent voters and that they will make the right choice when they cast their ballots on November 2, 2010. According to analysts the winner in the election will just need approximately 34% of the vote and with the 22% of the Floridians registered as neither Republicans nor Democrats the most important question that the candidates must dwell on in order to win the hearts of the voters is the question of how frustrated are these voters with their own party and if they are, how many will be loyal and how many will switch? After having asked these questions, both McCollum and Sink must secure their bases to guarantee a win. However, political advisors and experts said that money, campaign, national party input and the unexpected mistakes all contribute to the winning factor and all candidates must come with advantages and challenges (Cave, 1).
Most of the Americans will be focusing their eyes on the upcoming election. The story of departing Governor Charlie Crist is one thing and the identity of the incoming Governor is another. Statistics show that Republican representative McCollum is clearly on the lead but he can never be too confident because there is still a possible overtake from Democrat representative Sink. The identity of a particular state is intricately connected with the identity of the people within that state but this is not the case for Florida who is still out to find a description for the nature and identity of its people and as confusing as this is, the identity of a political party shares this kind of sentiment. Florida is a state that has yet to choose between the Republicans and the Democrats and the upcoming gubernatorial election will help them decide where their inclinations lie.
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RTT News. “New Polls Show McCollum With Slight Lead In Florida Gubernatorial Race”. RTT News. 2010. Web. 30 April 2010. <http://www.rttnews.com/Content/PoliticalNews.aspx?Id=1273229>
Wallace, Jeremy. “2010 Governor’s Race Is Looking Competitive”. The Ledger.com. 2009. Web. 30 April 2010. <http://www.theledger.com/article/20090411/NEWS/904115033?p=1&tc=pg>.