Charlie Crist leads Gov. Rick Scott by 10 percentage points in a new poll of Florida voters that also indicates a majority of voters view the former governor's party-switching in a favorable light.
The Quinnipiac University poll indicates Crist's 48-38 percent lead over Scott is reflected in three key areas: likability, trustworthiness and compassion.
Scott is spending at least $6.5 million in ads in two months and might have already spent as much as $20 million, according to Crist's campaign.
"So far, Florida Gov. Rick Scott's television barrage apparently has had no impact on the race. The incumbent has not been able to reduce former Gov. Charlie Crist's lead. In fact, voters see Crist's party switch in a positive light and the incumbent's effort to tie Crist's support for Obamacare has not yet borne fruit," Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said in a statement.
Republicans are sure to complain that the poll over-surveyed self-identified independents and didn't include enough Republicans (who account for just 25 percent of the sample but likely will be more than 40 percent of the ballot-casting electorate in November).
Charity bill passes
The Senate voted 39-0 Wednesday for a bill to protect Florida consumers from fraudulent and deceptive practices by charities.
The bill is designed to stop charities from misleading sympathetic Floridians into donating cash to noble causes such as sick children or veterans, when in fact most of the money ends up in the pockets of profiteers as detailed in an investigation by the Tampa Bay Times and The Center for Investigative Reporting called "America's Worst Charities."
Charities that have been banned in other states could not set up shop in Florida, paid telemarketers will have to undergo background checks and felons would be banned from soliciting funds.
The bill (HB 629) goes back to the full House for a final vote before it reaches the desk of Gov. Rick Scott, who is expected to sign it.
Finding new life
As is often the case during a session, bills are never dead until the very end. That's the case with HB 683, which was brought back to life Wednesday thanks to Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon. The bill would allow Hillsborough County agencies to opt out of using the Civil Service Board to save on costs and the time it takes in hiring employees. Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, used a procedural rule Monday to remove it from consideration. But at the end of Wednesday's session, Lee waived the rules and let a two-thirds vote place the bill back in play. "Now the civil service bill is being treated like any other bill in the Florida Senate," said its House sponsor, Rep. Dana Young, R-Tampa. Joyner issued a statement: "Unfortunately, delegation members and some local Hillsborough County officials seem to feel they know better than a system that has stood the test of time."
Steve Bousquet and Michael Van Sickler contributed.