Now, after a brutal primary, the GOP has a nominee that not a whole lot of general election voters are fond of. The TPM Poll Average for the general election fight shows Democratic nominee Alex Sink leading Scott 34.7-27.8.
When Scott got in the race, national Democrats were hopeful that Scott would beat McCollum in an expensive and drawn-out primary fight. Back then, they said they'd rather face the neophyte Scott than the seasoned -- and more moderate -- McCollum in a general election bout. Now Democrats got their wish, and Scott is the nominee Sink will face in the fall. That's a positive development for Democrats hoping to win votes in the center this November, but all that glitters is not gold: Scott has another huge fortune to spend and doubtless he'll do it in the fight against Sink.
Scott has a natural base among the tea party, who he helped mount protests against the health care reform process in the town halls last August. Though national tea party icon Dick Armey publicly endorsed McCollum, it's likely that Scott will have little trouble keeping the tea party on his side thanks to his tough stances on immigration and other issues.
But Scott will have to rebuild himself into a viable nominee for a majority of Floridians, not just conservative Republicans. He's shown he can leverage his vast fortune to project a positive public image, but before he turns to the general electorate he'll have to mend fences with the GOP. That won't be easy. McCollum has hinted that he won't get behind Scott and the state party recently canceled it's planned post-primary unity rallies due to lack of funds and, presumably, interest.
So Scott has his work cut out for him. Sounds like someone's TV advertising team better get to work.
Late Update: Republican Governors Association spokesman Tim Murtaugh released a statement on Scott's win, and it gives a nod to all the work Florida Republicans have to do after their divisive primary:
"Intraparty struggles are often difficult to watch, and the contest in Florida has been a good example of that. That said, the primary is over, Rick Scott is the nominee, the general election has begun, and our party now looks forward.
"Alex Sink has had months to run in a clear field and has not gained any traction, showing that her message has failed to connect with voters. She represents the policies of Washington, D.C. Democrats: higher taxes, runaway spending and greater intrusion into the everyday lives of Floridians.
"Couple her flagging campaign with the legitimate candidacy of Bud Chiles, and there is a real battle being waged for Democratic votes in Florida."