To paraphrase Michael Douglas' flawed character Gordon Gekko in 1985's Wall Street -Greed is Good...For Your Poll Numbers. Let's face it, trading on your family name (Jeb Bush) or generating free publicity walking across Florida (Lawton Chiles) to win races is out in the Sunshine State - replaced by parachuting in with trunks of cash.
Don't believe me - just look at the poll numbers. Political unknown Rick Scott is 13 points up on the sitting Florida Attorney General in the race for the Republican nod for governor. In the Democratic Primary for U.S. Senate, another political unknown Jeff Greene is neck and neck with a longtime South Florida congressman. This swing in the polls could be due, in part, to the fact that their two opponents - Bill McCollum and Kendrick Meek - are both about as exciting as New Coke. Still, it took gobs of money from both candidate's check books to get this point.
So why the Gekko connection? Well, Scott is currently spending millions of dollars on political TV ad and mail that are financed, in great part, by money he made running a a company that admitted stealing nearly $2 billion dollars in medicare and medicaid money from the federal government. Across the aisle, Democrat Jeff Greene is spending millions of dollars on political ads financed through investing that included betting that the financial industry would meltdown.
So far Greene has spent the bulk of his money introducing himself to Florida Democratic Primary Voters through puff piece TV ads and personalized mailers from his mom. It's too early to tell if Greene's feel good theme will be enough to beat Meek.
Scott has taken a different tack - choosing to spend a majority of his ad dollars attacking Bill McCollum for being too liberal. And the latest poll shows its working. Scott clearly believes in the theory that a good offense is the best defense -- commonly known in the industry as Swiftboating...
Scott has taken McCollum on in three areas - immigration, stem cells/abortion, and business.
The irony - Rick Scott is clearly vulnerable in all three areas.
Immigration - Can Scott swear that an illegal alien has never performed any services (cut the lawn, cleaned the buildings, done the laundry) at the more than 500 hospitals he ran?
Stem Cell/Abortion - How does Scott square his attack on McCollum with running a hospital chain that performed abortions.
Business Experience - Scott is most famous in business for running a company that admitted to defrauding the federal government (medicare and medicaid) out of nearly $2 Billion dollars.
The first big question - will McCollum be able to overcome his money disadvantage to call Scott out on these issues?
The second big question - will Scott push McCollum so far to the right that independents and conservative Democrats will move to Alex Sink?
Riches are no guarantee of success - (see Ross Perot and Michael Huffington) - but riches with weak opponents and some luck (see NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg) can spell success.
It's still early - but the latest poll numbers should send shudders through the McCollum and Meek camps.
And Greene and Scott ought to think about adopting the slogan - Money Can't Buy You Love - But It May Buy Florida
Dare To Be Great!