Mud-Slingers Face Off in Crucial Florida Governorship Race

Forty-six days from today, on Nov. 4, either Richard Lynn 'Rick' Scott, 61, or Charles Joseph 'Charlie' Crist, 58, will prepare to sit in the Governor's mansion in Tallahassee, FL.
The entire nation is watching this race because Florida is considered one of a half-dozen so-called swing states because of its 29 Electoral College votes.  Electoral votes, not the popular vote as many believe, decide elections. A total 270 electoral votes is considered victory in most races.
A swing state is sometimes referred to as a battleground state or a purple state. Florida is considered a swing state because neither Scott nor Crist has overwhelming support in securing their state's electoral votes.
If victorious, Scott will resume his chores for another four years as the 45th governor of Florida. If Crist wins, he will win back the Governor's post he held from 2007 to 2011 when Scott beat him by less than a percentage point.
Crist was a Republican when he was governor. Now he is a Democrat. Scott has remained a Republican. His forces taunt Crist's crew every time they can about him being a turncoat.
Both former governors don't really need the $132,932 annual salary that goes with the Tallahassee position. Both are millionaires.
Scott's most recent 2014 public net worth disclosure came to $132.7 million.
Crist told the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches in April of this year his estimated net worth was $1.25 million. That includes total 2013 income of $712,780.
But in 2011, in his final year in the Governor's Mansion, while running without party affiliation for U.S. Senate, Crist reported his net worth at $466,063, with assets between $2.05 million and $4.35 million in the name of his wife Carole.
Both Scott and Crist have their sights on a higher office some day - President of the United States of America. Don't laugh. Stranger things have happened on this country's political turf.
But both have plenty of unsightly baggage they will have to shed before voters give either a clear mandate for the governorship or higher office in later years.
Scott is reported to have raised about $70 million to date for his war chest.  Crist's people say they have about $40 million. Both sides speculate the campaign fund totals for each will come in at about $100 million by the time the Nov. 4 general election rolls around.
That speculated total $200 million for campaign funds would be unprecedented in Florida political annals.
The mud-slinging already is under way, on the air waves, in print and on the Internet, of course. For example:
  • Crist claims Scott cut public education by 1.3 billion in 2012, his first year in office.
  • Crist claims Scott has barred about one million Floridians from entering the state's Medicaid program.
  • Crist claims Scott gutted a health and medical program for military veterans in 2012.
  • And the most devastating barb of all, Crist's warriors bring up again Scott's attachment to one of the biggest Medicare fraud cases in U.S. history. That was in 1997.

In 1987, at 34, Scott co-founded Columbia Hospital Corp. in Louisville, KY with two business partners. Columbia Hospital Corp. merged with Hospital Corporation of America in1989 to form Columbia/HCA and eventually became the largest private for-profit health care company in the U.S.

Scott resigned as Chief Executive of Columbia/HCA in 1997 amid a controversy over the company's business and Medicare billing practices. The company admitted to 14 felonies and agreed to re-pay the federal government over $600 million, considered at that time the largest fraud settlement in US history.
Scott, however, was not implicated in the government's allegations and no charges were raised against him.
Scott's minions clobber Crist for switching from a "Reagan Republican" to a liberal Democrat. They argue Crist is a switch hitter and could just as quickly desert the Democrats some day for still another political cult.
Scott's political machine alleges:
  • Crist's administration lost 830,000 jobs throughout the state in his four-year stint as governor.
  • Scott criticizes Crist for being nothing but a glad-hander and chest-hugger as he once hugged President Barack Obama at an informal gathering.
  • But just as Crist brings up Scott's association with the Medicare fraud 17 years ago, Scott brings up Crist's most recent chumminess with convicted felon and disbarred lawyer Scott W. Rothstein.
In August, 2008, Crist appointed Rothstein, 52, as a member of the 4th District Court of Appeal Judicial nominating commission, a body responsible for selecting new judges for appointment to the Court.
Rothstein, however, never did get around to naming new judges. Instead, he received a 50-year-prison sentence in 2010 after being convicted of operating a $1.2 billion Ponzi investment scheme, believed to be the fourth largest racketeering operation of its kind in American annals.
Scott's people also like to point out that to cement his friendship with Rothstein, Crist and his fiancé, attended Rothstein's three-day wedding celebration in Fort Lauderdale, FL. In January 2008.
And round and round it goes. The mud-slingers heaving name-calling rockets at each other at every opportunity. It's a grand old game played by grand old political parties.
Who does this corner think will win on Nov. 4?
Richard Lynn 'Rick' Scott.  He has the money, the moxie and the vision of going on to even higher office four years from now.  He also has plenty of mud to throw around.

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