A party divided will not stand. Is a Scott/McCollum ticket the answer?
(Is Williams’ idea absurd? Stranger things have happened…)
By Gregory M. Williams
The time was 1980 and our nation was stuck in economic malaise; foreclosures were taking place, unemployment was on the rise; there was uncertainty in the stock market, and we were facing a gloomy future and a new term was introduced into the lexicon: the Misery Index. The Democrats, who were in charge of the Congress and White House at that time were pursuing an economic agenda of higher taxes, deficit spending, and more government in an attempt to pull our nation out of an economic tailspin.
The Democrats had just re-nominated Jimmy Carter as their standard bearer and former Congressman John Anderson was running as an Independent. The Republicans, who had just completed an expensive and divisive primary of their own, chose California Governor Ronald Reagan, “the political outsider” over former Texas Congressman and U.S. Ambassador to China, George H.W. Bush, the “Republican insider” to be their nominee in the 1980 elections.
Fast forward to today. Florida has one of the highest unemployment and home foreclosure rates in the country; coupled with and economy built on tourism that is suffering as a result of the ailing national economy and the recent BP oil spill. Floridians are justifiably concerned about their economic futures and they want change.
The Democrats, who seem deaf to the economic concerns of the electorate, have nominated political activist and businesswoman Alex Sink who also happens to be the wife of Bill McBride, a former Democratic gubernatorial nominee who lost to Jeb Bush in 2002. Sink is supported by the same usual big government and liberal constituencies that supported her husband in his failed quest for the governorship. Sink, like her husband will no doubt support the same tax and spend agenda for Florida that the Obama-Pelosi-Reid regime is currently pursuing on a national level to cure our current economic and societal ills. Sink recently chose former state senator Rod Smith — the runner-up candidate to her husband in 2002 –to be her running mate. While it may have taken years to do so, the Democrats have chosen the path of unification in their attempt to win back the governorship for the first time since 1994. Republicans need to do the same.
In a divisive and the most expensive gubernatorial primary in Florida history, the Republicans chose Rick Scott, an accomplished businessman and “political outsider” over former Congressman and current Attorney General Bill McCollum, the “establishment’s candidate” to lead our party in the fall elections. Make no mistake, the only way the Sink-Smith ticket wins this November, is if the Republican Party remains divided.
As Mr. Scott’s choice for a running mate will signal what type of governor he will be. That is why it is important that he and his advisors keep in mind the time tested words of President Abraham Lincoln who astutely observed from the Scripture, “A house divided against itself will not stand;” and a divided Republican constituency in our state cannot achieve a general election victory for Governor in 2010 if our party remains divided.
Lincoln was not only a great President but he was also a very smart politician. He knew in order to be successful it was important he keep his political rivals close to him and appointed many of them to be key members of his administration.
Just as Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush were able to put aside their personal and political differences, they were able to form a formidable political ticket, unify our party, and win the 1980 presidential election in a landslide; in the process they formed one of the greatest administrations in our nation’s history. I believe Mr. Scott needs to follow the example of Lincoln and Reagan and choose Bill McCollum to be his running mate for the upcoming general election. Conversely, Mr. McCollum needs to put aside any personal grievances he and his supports have, unify our party, and keep the leadership of Florida out of the hands of tax and spend liberals.
A Scott-McCollum ticket will be very formidable and almost impossible to beat. Scott not only brings personal wealth but a businessman’s approach and a fresh face to state government. By choosing McCollum as his running mate, Scott will unify our party, bring McCollum’s vast public service experience at the state and federal level and be able to use McCollum’s political statewide organization all of which will be necessary if we are to be successful in defeating the Democrats this November. Moreover, should Scott be successful in becoming our next Governor, with or without McCollum as his Lt. Governor, he will need to work with the Republican-led legislature, many of whom supported McCollum in the primary, in order to successfully enact his legislative agenda and get Floridians back to work.
Gregory Williams was a Senior Policy Advisor under President George W. Bush at the U.S. Department of Energy where he also served as the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs and had extensive experience working with the nation’s Governors and State Legislators on energy issues. He has also worked on Capital Hill in both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. He graduated from the University of Florida in 1986 where he majored in Public Relations and Communications. E-mail him at GMWilliams@myway.com.
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