Bill McCollum announces run for Florida governor
BY BETH REINHARD
Attorney General Bill McCollum immediately became the Republican frontrunner for governor in 2010 when he officially launched his campaign Monday in Orlando with the support of his party’s establishment.
If he were to win the GOP primary, McCollum would likely face Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, a Democrat, in the general election.
McCollum was elected attorney general in 2006 when he defeated Democratic state Sen. Walter ”Skip” Campbell. His two previously unsuccessful statewide bids for the U.S. Senate — against Republican Mel Martinez and Democrat Bill Nelson — have raised concerns among some Republicans about his strength as a candidate in an increasingly diverse and politically fickle state.
When he served in Congress, McCollum was wisely seen as an outspoken conservative who championed antiterrorism efforts and the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton. But his image as attorney general has been less partisan, and he sought to dispel any doubts Wednesday about his mainstream appeal.
”The hallmark of a McCollum administration will be access and inclusion,” he said. “This administration will be one that doesn’t look at partisan labels.”
The Florida Democratic Party issued a statement Wednesday that derided McCollum as a career politician beholden to special interests.
McCollum has put fighting Internet crime, particularly sexual predators, at the forefront of his office’s agenda. Sink has assailed him for awarding a $2.5 million no-bid contract to his former campaign consultant to produce and air ads on cybercrime. McCollum is prominently featured in the television spots.
In a gesture that signaled the party’s effort to clear the field, McCollum was introduced by Jim Greer, chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. Greer said he would ask the state party’s state executive committee to take the ”unique and unusual” step of endorsing McCollum before the 2010 primary.
”I am confident that as we go into 2010, if party is united, if we stand together and focus on the issues important to Floridians, the issues at the dinner table, we’ll be successful,” Greer said.
But Greer’s efforts to avoid divisive primaries have drawn criticism in recent days. Some Republican activists have refused to go along with his move to close ranks behind Gov. Charlie Crist’s campaign for Senate and ignore the candidacy of former House Speaker Marco Rubio.