February 1, 2010
Florida CFO Alex Sink has her work cut out for her in her race to become the first female Governor of the State of Florida. Presently, a huge political figure stands in her way like a great Poinciana tree over-taking the yard in front of a small house and his name is Bill McCollum.
Indeed Democrat Sink and Republican McCollum both have their eyes set on the Governor's chair made vacant by current Tallahassee chair-warmer Charlie Crist's decision to leave the Governor's palace and run for the U.S. Senate. And while the state of Florida has historically had more Democratic governors than Republicans---36 to 7---there is no reason to think that McCollum won't be able to keep the state from defecting like it did in the 2008 presidential election, when 50.9% of the electorate voted for Barack Obama and 48.4% for John McCain.
It is the razor -thin margin of that election result BEFORE the national economy tanked later in the year that will drive continued change to the Republican side of the ledger as we've seen in Massachusetts with Scott Brown; or, in this case, keep Florida Republican by voting against the Obama agenda and perceived impotence in improving the economy.
Despite the Florida unemployment rate hovering near 12%, neither candidate has come out and offered strong, innovative ideas about how to stop the bleeding and create jobs. Both just offer the same, canned political platitudes on their web sites about how ‘Floridians deserve better' and ‘as Governor I will work hard to bring more jobs and decent wages to the Sunshine State'.
Since it is clearly going to take more than that, Bill McCollum has the inside track---and according to current polling a double-digit lead on Sink---because he is a known entity to Floridians with a homegrown background, homespun style, and a 30-year career serving the state in a variety of capacities. In short, while making no stark and inspirational pronouncements about how he will improve things or do them with more conviction than the endlessly vacillating Crist, McCollum has the political infrastructure to go with the voter awareness to vanquish Sink handily in November.
For her part, Sink is a native of North Carolina who came to Florida through---gasp---the banking industry. Before her stint as CFO of Florida, she was President of Florida Operations of Bank of America. That pedigree might have been good enough to elect her fresh face as CFO of the state; but in a national economy sent on a turbo-powered journey into the Great Recession by bankers, she is going to have a very difficult time deflecting McCollum's attacks that she worked for one of the biggest offenders of the sub-prime mortgage meltdown, Bank of America.
While February is generally too early to call an election and much can certainly happen between now and then, recent polling shows McCollum with a commanding lead. According to a Quinnipac poll released last week, McCollum leads Sink 41-31. This is a 6-point increase from McCollum's lead in October.
For Sink to have any shot of competing at all, she is going to have to find a way to reach, connect, and mobilize both women voters and independents, and most importantly, with the 25% of voters who still identify themselves as ‘undecided'.