Attorney General Bill McCollum's once-certain path to the Republican nomination for governor is in trouble,
with supporters for the first time voicing anxiety about his chances and questioning his strategy. Trailing newcomer Rick Scott by 13 points in a recent statewide poll and unable to match Scott's millions of dollars in TV ads, McCollum looks vulnerable. It's a stunning shift for a seasoned politician who seemed to have a lock on the race just two months ago.
Supporters fault McCollum's TV message, inability to connect with an angry electorate, fundraising shortcomings and a dated campaign style, emphasizing endorsements from establishment figures such as Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney at a time when voters are alienated.
In an interview, McCollum acknowledged "angst" among supporters but predicted he would triumph as the only "battle-tested" Republican running for governor. "The person who has a record for everybody to see is going to be there," McCollum said. "On the other hand, there's a fellow (Scott) that people don't know who he is, and when they find out who he is, it's not going to be a pretty picture."
But he has some convincing to do in his own camp. "To put it in marketing terms, McCollum's brand is not well-identified despite a long career of service to Florida," said Greg Truax, a Tampa grass-roots volunteer who has donated to McCollum's campaign. "General McCollum needs to communicate the fundamental points of difference with Rick Scott."