Money. It’s the beginning, the middle, and the end of the story when it comes to politics. Though a sliver of romantic idealism remains in us all, we know this to be the slimy underbelly of American democracy.
Nowhere is the axiom more starkly proven than in the parallel exhibits of Rick Scott and Nan Rich. The former had only moved to Florida a few years before he caught the gubernatorial bug, and was known primarily for heading a health care corporation that later got fined a record amount for bilking Medicare—not exactly a sterling executive reference.
Ms. Rich, on the other hand, has a long history in local South Florida politics and as a voice of progressivism in the Legislature—this, in a state where the voting majority is Democratic.
Mr. Scott is now Gov. Scott because he swamped all opponents in a tsunami of his own personal fortune, which he spent liberally (word choice intended) to acquire the critical name recognition that ensures success for any aspiring statewide candidate in Florida. His background, thanks to his purchased familiarity, was irrelevant. A dazed public was so saturated by his “Let’s get to work” TV ads that they were practically shaving their heads in solidarity.
Ms. Rich, who doesn’t have two nickels to rub together to prime her pump, can’t even convince her own party to recognize her candidacy. Instead, it’s wooing a coy candidate who, until last year, still called himself a Republican—but who has a proven track record for shaking down donors. In the cold-eyed reality of power politics, ideology takes a back seat to fundraising prowess.
Why should the Florida Democratic Party establishment care if Nan Rich isn’t a household name in the Spanish moss-draped counties of North Florida? They won’t vote for a Democrat, anyway.
Unless, of course, Democratic pooh-bahs are banking that the crackers haven’t cottoned to Charlie Crist’s conversion. Get ready for a spate of “Crist for Governor” billboards up in the Panhandle—party affiliation conveniently omitted.
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