Shell-shocked lobbyists say it's time to 'reflect'
It was a surreal scene Wednesday at the Hilton in Altamonte Springs, the hotel alongside I-4 where Bill McCollum was to have declared victory Tuesday night. After a late night of drowning their sorrows -- not celebrating Rick Scott's win -- a number of the Capitol's best-known lobbyists gathered up their luggage and headed out, their political destinations unclear.
These lobbyists with drawn faces are not accustomed to being on the losing side in a big election. But they were all-in with McCollum, and wrote checks to pro-McCollum 527 groups that labeled Scott a "fraud" unfit to lead the nation's fourth-largest state. The question is whether Scott, who is running as an opponent of Tallahassee special interests, will now welcome their support.
"We just need to drop back and reflect for a few days and see what happens," said Bob Coker, the U.S. Sugar Corp. vice president whose firm was deeply invested in McCollum. "I just want to take a couple of days and let things play out."
Lobbyist and strategist J.M. "Mac" Stipanovich, one of the most quotable people in the Capitol, was uncharacteristically almost at a loss for words. He too called for caution. "If you're prudent, you'll reflect before you act," he said.
Mark Wilson of the Florida Chamber of Commerce noted that his group paid for pro-McCollum ads, not anti-Scott ads, He noted that Democrat Alex Sink had already reached out to him but he hadn't heard from Scott, and suggested Sink could have his group's backing. "We're going to push the reset button, and we're going to meet with both candidates," Wilson said.