Sabato's Crystal Ball

Florida Governor 2010

Crystal Ball Outlook: Leans R

Democratic candidates: Alex Sink, CFO of Florida

Republican candidates: Rick Scott, businessman

Other candidates: Bud Chiles, businessman

Recent updates from the Crystal Ball

Update: October 7, 2010

The Florida gubernatorial contest would probably have been solidly in the R column had self-funding businessman Rick Scott not upset conservative choice Bill McCollum, the state’s attorney general. The party is trying to paper over deep splits, and Democrat Alex Sink, who would become the Sunshine State’s first woman governor, now has a 50-50 shot in this critical mega-state. (The polls are all over the lot.) We caution that the contest is not over, and if the GOP wave is high enough, Scott could benefit in November

Update: September 16, 2010

This could be the big win Democrats need to salvage something truly important from November 2nd. It’s too tentative to call, but so far Democratic nominee Alex Sink has maintained a small edge over Republican nominee Rick Scott. Sink is broadly acceptable and reasonably well known as Florida’s elected CFO. Scott is still struggling with the deep divisions left in the GOP after his primary victory over establishment-favored Bill McCollum, who has refused to endorse Scott. With an unlimited bank account and a Republican wave building, Scott may be able to pull this one out, but the Democrats are in a better position than they had dreamed a couple of months ago. This one will go to the wire. And to think it could have been boring, with Gov. Charlie Crist skating to a second term had he not gotten D.C. fever. You’d better believe Crist privately wishes he had run for reelection.

Update: June 17, 2010

The Republican nominee ought to be favored, but there’s something about AG Bill McCollum that just doesn’t sell well in the Sunshine State. A two-time statewide loser already, McCollum is no media candidate, and now he’s tied at best in the GOP primary with self-funder Rick Scott. The Democrat, Alex Sink, hasn’t taken off either, and Bud Chiles, son of former Gov. Lawton Chiles (D), will drain some votes from her column running as an independent. The Senate race featuring Gov. Charlie Crist (I) has captured the public’s imagination, and the gubernatorial battle will remain a lesser mess for the time being.

Update: June 3, 2010

Gov. Charlie Crist (R) shocked his state twice. First, he decided against a second gubernatorial term, preferring to seek an open U.S. Senate seat. Then, after starting the contest as a heavy favorite, Crist consistently lost altitude to former House Speaker Marco Rubio, a conservative favorite backed by his predecessor, former Gov. Jeb Bush (R). Crist, who had obvious presidential ambitions, had famously embraced President Obama during a trip to Florida, backed the White House’s stimulus plan, and taken other moderate positions regarded as heresy on the right. Seeing that he was losing by margins approaching two-to-one, Crist abandoned the GOP and filed as an Independent for the November election, ceding the Republican nod to Rubio. So far Crist has a slight, shaky edge over Rubio (and likely Democratic nominee Kendrick Meeks, who is mired in third place). Back to the governorship Crist is abandoning…Even though he is being opposed by a wealthy businessman (Rick Scott), state Attorney General Bill McCollum, is the likely GOP gubernatorial nominee. That is not to say that McCollum is not being tested early; Scott may spend as much as $30 million before the Aug. 24th primary, and he has gained ground on McCollum. Meanwhile, state CFO Alex Sink, a mild-mannered banker originally from North Carolina, will likely be the Democratic nominee (despite a possible late challenge from Bud Chiles, son of the late Democratic Gov. Lawton Chiles). Sink might become the first woman governor of the Sunshine State. McCollum appears to be the November favorite, and he has ex-Gov. Bush’s backing, though McCollum is a bit dull and has already lost two U.S. Senate contests in Florida. Further, McCollum’s task is now complicated by Crist’s independent bid for Senate. Sink will try to combine the moderate Crist vote with Meek’s Democratic base—which is easier said than done. While we give an early edge to the Republican, this contest is far from over and may have many twists and turns. LEANS REPUBLICAN HOLD.

Update: October 15, 2009

Gov. Charlie Crist (R) shocked his state and decided against a second gubernatorial term, preferring to seek an open U.S. Senate seat. Crist, who has presidential ambitions, is the favorite in both his primary and, if nominated, the general election, even though former Gov. Jeb Bush and his supporters do little to hide their dislike of the more moderate Crist. But Crist’s departure from Tallahassee gives the Democrats a fair to good shot at the governorship for the first time since Lawton Chiles won his second term in 1994. State CFO Alex Sink, a mild-mannered banker originally from North Carolina, will be the Democratic nominee and might become the first woman governor of the Sunshine State. The GOP nominee, state Attorney General Bill McCollum, has the unified backing of his party, though he has already lost two U.S. Senate contests in Florida. There is little doubt this will be a closely fought, competitive election. Sink appears to project better than McCollum, but McCollum might be helped by the GOP nature of the 2010 midterms as well as Crist’s position at the top of the ticket, assuming he defeats conservative Mario Rubio in the party primary.

Update: March 26, 2009

Gov. Charlie Crist (R-FL): Crist was elected Governor in the tough year (for Republicans) of 2006 to succeed Jeb Bush, and he has governed as a moderate conservative. While the right wing of the state GOP has made unhappy noises about his social and environmental policies, it is hard to believe he could be seriously challenged for the Republican nomination for his 2010 reelection. And the Democrats don’t have any especially intriguing candidates for the post; most of the best are now looking at the open U.S. Senate seat of retiring Republican Mel Martinez. If Crist surprises, and decides to opt out of reelection to the Governorship in order to try for the Senate, then it is theoretically possible for the Democrats to win the statehouse–if a first tier candidate can be recruited. Some in Florida believe that Crist may indeed prefer the Senate to another term as Governor in hard economic times. But as long as Crist wants a second gubernatorial term, Florida will be a REPUBLICAN HOLD.