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Florida's independent voters take a shine to Alex Sink

Rick Scott may be blessed with virtually unlimited campaign money and a Republican wave looming over November, but two numbers stand to be giant obstacles to him winning the governor's race: 13 and 600,000.

Thirteen is the number of percentage points Democratic Alex Sink was leading Scott among independent voters in a CNN-Time poll released last week. She was leading among nonpartisan voters 50 percent to 37 percent. Overall, the poll had her ahead among registered voters 49 percent to 42 percent.

Six hundred thousand is the voter registration advantage Democrats have over Republicans in Florida. That could be enough to minimize the impact of that Republican wave, which is almost sure to produce higher Republican turnout than Democratic turnout.

"We're starting with the largest voter registration advantage we've had in 15 years," noted Democratic strategist Steve Schale, a Sink campaign adviser. "Even if Republican turnout is nine or 10 points higher, it still means basically the same number of Democrats and Republicans vote."

Which in turn means independent voters once again will decide the election. In Florida, it's not enough to just solidify your base (and that CNN poll showed Sink winning 85 percent of Democrats and Scott 76 percent of Republicans). Winning also requires winning independents, so Scott is virtually doomed if he doesn't improve his standing with nonpartisan voters.

Divided endorsements

The two major law enforcement unions in Florida are divided over who is the best candidate for attorney general — Democrat Dan Gelber or Republican Pam Bondi. The Fraternal Order of Police endorsed Bondi, of Tampa, while the larger Police Benevolent Association went with Gelber, of Miami Beach.

"As an 18-year career prosecutor in the 13th Judicial Circuit and a strong advocate for justice, Pam has demonstrated a commitment to the citizens of Florida that exceeds politics as usual. We have seen firsthand her willingness to step up and fight for what is right," said James W. Preston, president, Florida State Fraternal Order of Police Lodge.

Police Benevolent Association president John Rivera: "Dan Gelber's track record as a top federal prosecutor and chief counsel and staff director for the U.S. Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations earned him the support of our 36,000 members. Public safety and protecting Floridians has been a priority of Dan's long before his service in the Legislature. I am confident as our next attorney general, it will be his mission to work in partnership with the law enforcement community to keep our streets safe and take on those who aim to harm Floridians."

Distancing herself

It looks like Scott's attempts to link Sink to President Barack Obama hit close to home. First, Sink decided not to join Obama on stage in Miami last month. Now, Scott supporters point to Sink's environmental agenda page on her campaign website, which no longer includes a reference to the increasingly unpopular president.

A Google search with a cached page shows Sink once pledged to "work with President Obama's administration" to help restore the Everglades. Now it reads, "Alex will provide the strong leadership that's needed to expedite federal approval of restoration projects."

Sink's campaign rejects the notion the site was "scrubbed." A spokeswoman said the first version that referenced Obama was a draft that didn't get final approval.

The witching hour for Scott

Freudian slip? Speaking Saturday night to Republican activists gathered in Orlando, Scott declared, Sink was asleep at the witch — switch."

Oops. "I'm glad there's not cameras," he said, as the cameras rolled.

John Frank contributed to this week's Buzz. Adam Smith can be reached at asmith@sptimes.com and is on Twitter @AdamSmithTimes.

Winner

of the week

Charlie Crist. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last week said the La Niña climate condition means the likelihood of more hurricanes this year. Bad news for Florida, but a great opportunity for the governor and Senate candidate to keep himself on TV constantly as Election Day approaches. Could be the best thing to happen to his Senate bid since the BP oil catastrophe.

Loser

of the week

Gainesville. Thanks to one extremist minister, the city is cast internationally as a backwoods mecca for loons.

Florida's independent voters take a shine to Alex Sink 09/11/10 [Last modified: Saturday, September 11, 2010 8:21pm]
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