This is it, folks — the day when we learn which of the candidates in the hotly-contested primaries in Florida will start the general election fight behind. That’s right. Essentially what they’re fighting for today in the Democratic Senate primary and the Republican gubernatorial fight in Florida is who gets to start the race to November running behind the frontrunner.
In the gubernatorial fight, which pits wealthy former hospital executive Rick Scott against Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, the nasty Republican primary has left likely Democratic nominee and state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink leading general election polls. Whichever Republican wins tonight will have to take time to rebuild excitement among voters who appear to have been turned off by the nasty Republican primary.
As for Scott and McCollum, polls show its anybody’s game tonight — though McCollum has had the momentum in the closing days of the contest. The TPM Poll Average for the race shows McCollum ahead 42.1-38.2.Over in the Democratic Senate race, the story is a little different. Rep. Kendrick Meek — the establishment choice for Senate — appears to have fought off an expensive challenge from billionaire investor Jeff Greene. Though Greene once led by a healthy margin, the TPM Poll Average now shows Meek in the lead 37.8-27.7.
Whichever man wins will enter the general election fight a distant third behind Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (I) and likely GOP nominee Marco Rubio. The battle for the open Senate seat so far has essentially been between those two men, with the Democratic candidates running well behind in general election polls. This is partially due to the fact that Crist has made few bones about the fact that he’s running to win with the Democratic vote and partially due to the fact that before Greene blew the Democratic primary up into the national headlines, few outside (or inside) Florida had heard of Meek.
Now with Meek poised, it seems, to win the nomination he thought he had locked up a year ago, the focus will shift to boosting his credibility among voters and energize the Democratic base to line up behind him.