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State Republicans discourage Sen. Paula Dockery on McCollum gubernatorial challenge

While state Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, continues to look seriously at challenging Bill McCollum for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, the GOP appears to be working overtime to discourage her.

Last week, just after word spread that Dockery had a full-day meeting with a top pollster about the potential campaign, the McCollum campaign announced that virtually the entire Republican congressional delegation was backing him. The only holdout? U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam, who has his own statewide campaign for agriculture commissioner and hails from Polk County along with Dockery.

"This could be more like 1986 … when the establishment wanted Tallahassee and D.C. insiders, and we instead got Bob Martinez nominated,'' said Dockery's veteran pollster, David Hill. "Florida had never had a Hispanic governor. It's still never had a female governor. Time to make history again?"

A Dockery decision does not appear imminent, and likely will depend in large part on how much money McCollum raises through June. Hill said that Dockery is being flooded with pleas for her to run grass roots, and he dismissed the talk that McCollum is unbeatable for the nomination.

"Throughout his entire career, he has either underachieved or run up to the starting line and dropped out before he got started. If anything, he's probably been overestimated," Hill said of McCollum. "People keep coming to (Dockery) and saying, 'Help!' I'm not sure this is going to have a happy ending for Florida. The fact that the Democrats have a likely woman nominee makes minds wander to this."

Homan on health care

A lot of Republicans in Washington are trashing President Barack Obama's plan to have a "public option" health plan to compete with private insurance plans. But one prominent Republican in Tampa, state Rep. Ed Homan, an orthopedic surgeon, thinks it's a good idea.

Check out Homan today on Political Connections on Bay News 9 at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Rubio's reassurance

An excerpt of a memo the Marco Rubio campaign is sending prospecting donors, assuring him he has a shot against Charlie Crist for the U.S. Senate nomination: "Marco has a political base among Hispanics and the young. He has a compelling personal story, a message that resonates among the party's majority conservative base. … The road ahead is long and not for the faint of heart, but Marco will win not just because he will have the resources and extraordinary work ethic to do so, but he is the candidate with passion, energy and the commitment of his principles and beliefs."

Florida connection

Turns out there are Florida fingerprints on a legislative coup that rocked New York when two state senators switched parties and threw the chamber to GOP control. The revolt was largely orchestrated by billionaire Independence Party founder and three-time gubernatorial candidate Tom Golisano.

Golisano, a major political benefactor in New York, recently moved to Naples to escape New York income taxes. One of the first calls he received congratulating him on his new Florida residency? Charlie Crist, according to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

One of Golisano's political advisers, Roger Stone of Miami, also was widely reported to have had some involvement in the Albany drama.

Adam C. Smith can be reached at asmith@sptimes.com.

Winner

of the week

Marco Rubio. He may look like a gnat beside Charlie Crist when fundraising numbers come out next week, but the long-shot Republican Senate candidate seems to be doing everything right to be cast as the darling of conservatives across the country. "Rubio is the most impressive conservative leader I have met in a long time," South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint wrote last week, endorsing Rubio over Crist.

Loser

of the week

U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas. The chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee on paper should have a golden opportunity to pick off the strongly Republican Orlando-area 24th Congressional District that Democrat Suzanne Kosmas won in 2004. But so far, the best candidate it's recruited is a Winter Park city commissioner, Karen Diebel, who spent the first days of her campaign denying that she is mentally unstable.

State Republicans discourage Sen. Paula Dockery on McCollum gubernatorial challenge 06/20/09 [Last modified: Saturday, June 20, 2009 8:31pm]
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