A well-timed Mason-Dixon poll for Ron Sachs Communications came out last week with plenty of good news and bad for gubernatorial candidates Bill McCollum and Alex Sink.
Good news for McCollum: In a lousy climate for Republicans nationally, he was leading Sink with 40 percent support to 34 percent in the May 14-18 poll. The Republican attorney general was beating the Democratic chief financial officer by 10 points among independents and was tied among women voters (leading us to wonder if many people don't realize "Alex" Sink is really Adelaide Sink, a woman). Among Democrats, 17 percent backed McCollum, while only 6 percent of Republicans supported Sink.
Bad news for McCollum: He has run three statewide elections, and recently spent millions of dollars to star in televised "public service" commercials, and fewer than one-third of voters recognize him favorably. He's only slightly ahead of a candidate recognized favorably by just one in four voters.
A doomed campaign?
Kendrick Meek already is a heavy favorite to win the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, but we're wondering how much that nomination is worth now that Charlie Crist has announced for Senate. That Mason-Dixon poll showed Crist leading Democrats Meek or Dan Gelber by at least 30 points, and among Republican voters the governor was beating primary rival Marco Rubio 53 percent to 18 percent.
With plenty of other far less expensive states where Democrats are positioned to pick up U.S. Senate seats, one has to wonder how much money the national party will invest in taking on Crist. No wonder state Sen. Gelber of Miami Beach is talking about jumping from the U.S. Senate race into a campaign for attorney general.
"The terrain has changed quite a bit since Gov. Crist got into the race," Gelber told a group in Tampa on Friday. "I'm a U.S. Senate candidate. And I wouldn't be surprised if sometime in the future I was an attorney general candidate."
One of the more interesting things to watch this election cycle is whether Crist enthusiastically backs Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp, who is expected to run for attorney general. Crist's former campaign manager and deputy attorney general, George LeMieux, last week pulled his name out of the mix for attorney general, so that should make the choice easier for Crist.
But Kottkamp has been a magnet for horrible publicity over his travel and security expenses, not exactly the candidate one wants to embrace amid tough fiscal times. On the other hand, Kottkamp's old boss is mega trial lawyer John Morgan, a major money-raiser and Crist backer. Snubbing Kottkamp could mean snubbing a big source of money for the Senate race.
A McBride on the ballot?
Speaking of personal injury lawyers, Orlando attorney Will McBride, who came in second behind Katherine Harris in the 2006 Republican U.S. Senate primary, also is testing the waters to run for attorney general.
Grading Rick Baker
What grade does St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker get for his performance? Mayoral candidate Scott Wagman gave him an A for innovative ideas and a B for working to gain the public trust. Wagman is on Political Connections on Bay News 9 today at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Adam C. Smith can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8241.